Some further thoughts as you head to the polls:
I’m concerned that when civic politicians who are most focused on issues outside of the jurisdiction of municipal governance campaign on those issues, we lose important focus on the work at hand.
I’m concerned about politicians who highlight and campaign around popular speaking points that confuse what we can and should actually expect from them.
For example, I believe it’s incredibly important for our elected representatives to be environmentally conscious and willing to back up their principles with action. But campaigning on pipeline advocacy at the municipal level muddies a lot of water. One of the major obstacles to relevant voter engagement is not understanding what level of government has power over what issues. Pipelines, as passionate as we are about them, are not essentially a municipal issue.
Please don’t choose your candidates based principally on factors beyond the control of civic governance. Consider it as an alignment indicator, sure. That’s valuable. But don’t make it your deciding issue.
If anything, strong political voices against the pipeline need to be in provincial or federal positions to have significant impact. We need their work, but we need it in different ways.
Elections are a lot like job interviews. To be good at the job, candidates have to understand the job, and the power they do have, and make commitments based on those realities.
One of the most valuable opportunities in our civic governance is to continue to work to gain regional power. So much of the power over our municipalities is held at the provincial level – too much. We’re established enough to take on more responsibility for our residents. We’re better situated to create solutions and structures to benefit our local residents. I, for one, am supporting leadership who will work toward that goal.
It absolutely makes sense to choose politicians who align with your belief systems. By all means, vote for them when they’re in a race that’s relative to what they want to fight for. But don’t hire them for the wrong job.