Editorial – A thinning talent pool

Chris Clegg

If you talk to average Joe or Jane citizen, you will find most care very deeply about their community. Many are involved in their children’s sports, arts or culture groups in one way or another. Some coach while some serve on boards and committees.

Make no mistake about it, this is the volunteer service which is the engine that runs our communities.

But when it comes to serving on local political boards, it is another story. The vast majority shy away. The problem of getting people to step forward is not as severe for village and town councils as it is school boards. Not so sure what the issue is.

But it is a clear problem. As nomination day approaches Sept. 20, there may be an onrush of people stepping forward. There may not.

The major hurdle prohibiting people from serving is time commitment. Some councils have decided they have to appoint councillors to every committee under the sun. Some are not necessary. In fact, some operate much better without a councillor sticking his/her nose into ever facet of the operation, or simply filling up a chair to get paid for attending another meeting.

Perhaps a few less meetings [time commitment[ and people may consider stepping forward?

When the time commitment is so huge, it keeps people from running. Look at a few of our reps locally. Many are retired or have businesses or jobs where they can leave in a moment’s notice. Many do not have the luxury. What happens is the potential pool of candidates decreases significantly.

It is a problem.

And, sadly, one that some currently elected officials have no intention of stopping.

Meanwhile, Alberta Municipal Affairs insists on needless training programs. The best example is how to be a “good’ councillor. Ask Dwayne Stout in McLennan how he fees about that! He is not alone.

Coupled with the fact many young people are just starting businesses and want to devote the most time possible to ensure its survival, they do not have time to devote to community service. Can not blame them for that.

Still, some younger people find the time. Credit to them! Just because you are under 30 or 40 does not mean you cannot serve effectively. Wisdom gained from experience of age is only useful when put to good use.

It is often said that the busiest people find the time to do even more. The ones not so busy never seem to find the time. A strange paradox but true.

In the next few weeks leading to Sept. 20, consider running for office. Virtually all of us have something to offer. Fresh faces keep council vibrant. Fresh faces bring new ideas to the table.

Those who step forward should be congratulated. It is a huge commitment and not one that should be taken lightly.

And let us not forget those who served during the last term. Through very trying times, your efforts are appreciated.

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