When you listen to candidates who want your vote Nov. 15, ask yourself one basic question: is this person focused on the right issues?
If someone who wants to represent you on the school board or town council starts talking about pipelines, be wary.
If someone who wants to be an RDN director or city councillor starts talking about Canada’s military role in the battle against ISIS, cast a skeptical glance.
Municipal politics — town council, city council, school board, regional district board of directors — is really the last bastion of direct democracy. We should protect that at all costs.
Party politics took over provincial and federal politics — including the way we are represented in Victoria and Ottawa — a long time ago. It has creeped into some larger cities (eg. Vancouver), but municipal elections remain largely party-free.
We understand we don’t live on an island (well, OK, we do, but you get the gist). National and international issues can and do have an effect on our lives — we share the ocean with the world. There is a time and place for these wider, worldly discussions, but town council meetings are rarely that time, city hall rarely that place.
In life as in politics, it’s often the mundane, difficult and tedious work that is most important. Such is the case as it relates to the different levels of government. Sewer, garbage and water rates, your property tax bill, land development issues, local roads, maintenance of parks — these may not be sexy, stop-the-tankers issues, but they have more effect on our day-to-day lives than what’s being done with Alberta oil.
When a candidate comes knocking on your door in the next six weeks, demand some focus. Press he/she on local issues. Don’t let them stray.
Ask them what their plan is for the future of your community. Try not to accept generalities — press the seasoned politician for more details when he/she does his/her election-year run to the middle ground when the reality is his/her voting record indicates more pointed positions.
If the electorate is focused, the candidates will be focused and we can have a great, revealing debate about on-the-ground issues that matter in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
— Editorial by John Harding