Elections in October, first-time candidates should consider realities of being on council

Mayor of McLennan, Jason Doris, signing the Offical Oath following being sworn in as mayor on November 2015.

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

Municipal Election Day is Monday, October 16th, 2017 and those considering running for council for the first time should be aware of the deadlines and processes in putting their name forward and of the commitments involved in being a councillor.
The nomination day is Monday, September 18, 2017 from 10am to 12 noon and the returning officer cannot accept nominations before or after this designated time.
There is absolutely no discretion on this matter so those planning to run should take note of the date and time.
Every candidate’s nomination must be in proper format and signed by five eligible voters who must be resident in the respective jurisdiction on the date of signing.
A candidate must be at least 18 years old, a Canadian citizen and a resident in the area he or she is running for at least six months.
While the Municipal Government Act outlines the duties for members of Council, the Act does not stipulate a specific number of hours members should spend engaged in council business.
There are however, particular responsibilities that those elected to council must fulfill.
It is important that people planning to run consider work and family and take into account the extent of the commitment they can make in attending council meetings, sitting on committees and boards, extracurricular activities and occasionally travelling to conferences.
“The time commitment takes a little bit of getting used to but it can be as much as you want to put into it. There are all kinds of committees and boards that you can be a part of,” says Jason Doris, who has been on McLennan Council for 4 years and mayor since November 2015.
“The time is a challenge but the reward is there and the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing the best things for you community.”
Doris says that being on council and particularly being mayor made him aware of how a municipality and the community function.
“It has been a real learning experience for me,” he says. “It has opened my eyes as to how things are run, that you can’t just do something, you have to take all the proper steps as there is a process that must be followed.”
The mayor also talked about balancing the need of attracting new people to the town with addressing the needs of the people who are already living there.
“You’re trying to look at all these different aspects to figure out what people need the most, what they want to see happen,” Doris says. “We also have to see what people don’t like about the town and how to change that and make things better, more inviting and more appealing to everybody, new comers and those who are already here.“
Doris says it feels good to be involved in trying to do the right things for the town and helping out in the area. He believes for people who want to participate and contribute, being on council is a good way of doing it.
“You need to get on council to see what’s going on and the way things are done so you can understand why things are the way they are. To change things, maybe we need some different faces,” he says.
“Council isn’t just for specific people; this is for anyone who is a resident who is willing to put the time and effort in. I think being on council is an excellent opportunity and I recommend that one should try it.”
Gary Braithwaite has been on Falher Council for four years, spent two terms on the McLennan Council and worked for the MD of Big Lakes for fifteen years.
He says that apart from the council meetings, choosing which committees to sit on is important as the time commitment can vary substantially.
“As far as all the committee positions that I’m on and that’s four, which is probably typical for each councillor, two of those committees, the Honey Fest and the Ag Society take up considerably more time than the other committees combined.”
He says it is not that the meetings are all that time consuming but one gets involved in volunteer activities related to sitting on those committees.
“One does receive an honorarium but you tend to put in so much more time that one does it for love of community and ensuring that everyone here enjoys the area more.”
Braithwaite suggests that retired or semi-retired people make ideal candidates for council as they have the experience, the wisdom and possibly the time to get involved.
Of course, younger people, while usually busy with work and maybe a young family, they have the energy to get involved and bring that fresh perspective to council.
At present Falher has five members on council with two positions currently vacant.
Braithwaite says that having a full council from varying background would enhance the meetings, offer a broader perspective and also reduce the number of committees that any one councillor has to sit on.
“Everybody starts relatively green in a lot of ways,” says Braithwaite.
“The first two years are a pretty steep learning curve but all of a sudden you start learning about all these other things from more experienced councillors and with the succession of people leaving and new people coming on council the baton gets passed on.”
The Town of McLennan and the Town of Falher, the Village of Donnelly and the Village of Girouxville all hold their nomination day registrations on Monday September 18, 2017 from 10am to 12 noon. Election Day is also the same for all local municipalities, on October 16, 2017.

Falher Councillor, Gary Braithwaite has been on council for four years and previously served two terms on the McLennan Council.

Share this post