The decisions made by the next council will shape our community and affect your life for decades to come. If you care about affordable housing, traffic congestion, tax rates, environmental preservation or arts and culture, you should care who sits on Council.
If you don’t vote and people like you don’t vote, your perspective may not be reflected on Council or in Council’s decisions. A 25% voter turnout over the last two elections is problematic. The future of our community should be determined by a broad, representative cross-section of residents, not a vocal minority.
Some people don’t believe their vote counts. However, in the 2014 election, the sixth councillor defeated her two closest challengers by only 61 and 64 votes respectively. You can influence which candidates are successful by reaching out to your friends, family and neighbours.
As a motivated, informed and vocal voter, you have considerable power.
Who to vote for
Picking the right candidate isn’t easy. Policies change but personalities don’t. So, I focus on three qualities when I vote:
Integrity -If I can’t trust a candidate to be honest and consistent, I won’t support them. I’m wary of candidates that tell people want they want to hear and make promises they can’t fulfill. No councillor is going to “solve” to complex, interjurisdictional problems like traffic congestion or housing affordability. Similarly, candidates that take inconsistent positions - such as promising to address housing affordability while halting development - lose my vote. While it is human nature to try to make our messages palatable to as many voters as possible, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Commitment - All candidates proclaim how committed they are to serving their community. The candidates who deserve consideration are the ones that have demonstrated such a commitment in various ways over time. To do a good job, councillors have to know the community - its history, the issues, some of the key players - and Council’s role. I have concerns, for example, about candidates that don’t even bother to attend a few Council meetings before seeking a seat.
Open-mindedness - Local governments deal with difficult issues. While it is natural for candidates to offer ideas during a campaign, anyone convinced that there is only one legitimate perspective or that they have all the answers is misguided and likely to be ineffective. The most successful councillors are those that hear from the entire community, investigate issues thoroughly and exchange views with the rest of Council before taking definitive positions. Look for candidates willing to listen, learn, be constructive and think independently.
Over the past seven years on council, I have tried to demonstrate these three qualities. While I appreciate that not everyone has agreed with all of the decisions I have made, I hope my constituents feel that I have succeeded. In this election, I urge you figure out the qualities you value, form your own opinions about the candidates, vote accordingly, and urge others to do the same.