No shortage of quality on the ballot

The deadline to file nominations for the upcoming civic election has passed.

The nomination period can be like Christmas for political nerds. Some things you know you’re going to get. In others, you don’t know who’s going to file and you can only hope that you get enough candidates so that you don’t need a second call for nominations, and that they’re good candidates who have a vision for what’s truly best for the community.

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Here in Estevan, it’s good news. We have 11 candidates for councillor, the most in a councillor election since 2006, when there were 12. But keep in mind that the mayor of the day, Gary St. Onge, was elected by acclamation that year.

This time around, we have two people in the race for mayor, so we’ll have 13 total names, the most we’ve had in an election since 2003, when there were 17.

The bonus is they’re good candidates. There wasn’t someone who made us say “Who?” or “Really?” when their nomination papers were filed.

Before the nominating period began, there were concerns about the criminal background check requirements for this election. Would the extra requirement scare away some people? Would candidates be able to get it completed on time?

We don’t know if it kept potential candidates off the ballot, but it didn’t deter 13 quality people from running.

And it’s great to see some diversity in the candidates. You have four women running, which might be the most ever. You have business people. You have downtown merchants. You have young people. You have people who work in the industrial areas of the city.

You sometimes hear complaints about municipal councils being an old boys club. That won’t be the case with this next council. And with four incumbent councillors not seeking re-election – all good ones, we might add – we’re guaranteed change.

Now that the nomination period is over, the focus will shift.

First, it’s important for the candidates to work tirelessly between now and election day on Nov. 9. They’re going to have to get out there, get their ideas out there and communicate them effectively. And yes, spend money.

This isn’t going to be like 2012, when there were nine candidates for councillor, but everyone knew who would be the councillors the moment the field was set.

With so many strong candidates, and well-known candidates willing to make a difference, if a candidate takes a lackadaisical approach to the campaign, then that candidate deserves to lose.

And, as we’ve said many times before, it’s important for all of us to get out and vote. There’s no excuse not to vote. The City of Estevan has come out with a lot of ways for people to vote in this election. Other communities will be taking necessary precautions and measures to ensure a safe election.

For whatever reason, civic elections tend to lag behind their federal and provincial counterparts when it comes to voting. Given the strength of the field this time around for the City of Estevan, it would be nice to see the voter turnout rival the 2000 election, when it was close to 70 per cent.

And given the importance of the next four years for our community, and the role council will have in shaping the future of Estevan, the people we elect will have even greater importance.

Municipal politics are the bedrock of our democracy. The people elected next month, regardless of the size of the community, will be tasked with doing a lot for relatively little pay. And regardless of the size of the community, whether it be a village the size of Frobisher or a city like Estevan, you have a level of contact with the candidates that you wouldn’t have with your MLA or MP, who has numerous communities to look for.

Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen gets to cover an area the size of a northeast US state.

So if there’s a civic election in your community, it’s important to get out and vote for the person you think will do the best job of mayor and/or the best job as councillor.

Here in Estevan, there’s no shortage of candidates to choose from.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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