Leading Locally

Carrie’s decision to run for local election was prompted by frustration with a northern Town Council that too often overlooked social issues and quality of life in favour of economic development. As a young woman in her 20’s she also felt it was important to broaden the diversity in her community.

Upon retiring as a high school teacher, Bill made the decision to throw his hat in the ring in order to pursue a lifelong interest in politics. On the other hand, Tracey, an avid volunteer, had never even thought about running until someone asked her to consider it.

All three were part of a recent panel our team organized for those considering running for office in this fall’s municipal election. Their enthusiasm and advice was a wonderful combination of passion and practicality.

When asked what was involved in getting ready to run, they suggested the work begins even before submitting one’s nomination. Their advice included attending council meetings, reading up on council meetings from the past year, researching demographics, community history and current issues, reading the local paper and letters-to-the-editor, and talking with people about the direction they foresee for the community. The potential impact on job, finances, and family is an additional consideration. 

After that, the next step is submitting one’s nomination. Gathering the required signatures was considered by those on the panel to be part of their campaign and a first step in getting their name out.

Developing a platform was also discussed.  Carrie suggested that rather than having a formal platform, she focused on placing a social lens on what was happening in the community. She also advised against making any promises except to listen, evaluate, and make decisions based on the long term vision and plan for the community.

Bill focused on downtown redevelopment and economic considerations. Tracey reported she had learned that what she thought were priorities were not necessarily in alignment with those of the community. As a result, she too stressed the need to listen and act - within reason - on what the community wants. She recognized that quality of life is important, as well as economic drivers.

Their best advice included, “Be clear about your values”, “Be sure to act with integrity, “Don’t go in with one agenda”, Work to enable community groups to do what they want to do”, “Tap into the passion in the community and then get out of their way”, and “It’s about the long term quality of life in the community, not only the “potholes”.

They also suggested that campaign door knocking may not be necessary for everyone as it depends on style and comfort zone. What works for you has to be genuine and authentic. Stepping out of your comfort zone is good as is attending community events.

As one panellist put it, “Being a Councillor is a huge learning curve, but it is amazing as it brings a different perspective to community. It’s something I wish everyone could experience.”

It’s safe to say that if you’re even considering running for election, these panellists would say “Go for it”!

Posted on 06-29-10


Great re-cap Brenda!  I happened to sit on that call and went away hugely informed and inspired.  It is always interesting to see the different ways in which we can engage with our community.

•Posted by Janet Naclia  on  06/29/10  at  11:20 AM

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