Opinion

EDITORIAL: Local elections

With so many levels of government to fund, every year is an election year.

Last year it was provincial. Next year, federal. This year, we get to focus on what some believe is the last bastion of participatory democracy, municipal government.

The elections for town and city councillors, regional district representatives and school board members is about 11 months away, but you can bet the rhetoric and positioning will begin much sooner.

The federal election next year may have a bearing on what happens in municipalities this fall. We’re hearing there are at least a couple of people who currently sit on the municipal councils of Parksville and/or Qualicum Beach considering a leap to the federal stage.

It’s unclear when the federal parties will nominate their candidates here for an election that doesn’t come until May, 2015, but we hope those who are going to take a run at those spots are open with the voters about their plans if they also intend to let their names stand on municipal ballots.

No current municipal politician has openly declared intentions to run or not run again this year — save Parksville’s Bill Neufeld, who revealed he was going to run for mayor in 2014 seemingly about a half an hour after he was elected as a councillor for the first time. Not knowing the full list right now is fair — we should not expect to know who is going to be on the ballot until the summer, at the earliest.

At this stage, all we can ask of prospective candidates is openness and clarity about issues when they do decide to go public about their intentions to run. Voters should not be surprised 18 months down the road about how a councillor is voting on a key issue.

When the real campaign begins, we hope municipal and school board candidates will debate with substance and detail, something that was absent in the 2013 provincial election. Voters should know what school board candidates say about school closures. Taxpayers in Parksville Qualicum Beach should be clear about a candidate’s views on development and taxes and revenue streams. Those in Errington and Coombs have a right to know what a candidate says about possible incorporation.

It will be a while before it heats up, but we look forward to the debate about the future of our communities.

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