In day-to-day life, no levels of government have more direct contact with you than municipal council and your local school board. The roads your drive, the water you drink, how your children are educated – these all rely on local governance. Next week, nominations open for this fall’s municipal and school board elections.
Running for office is not a small commitment, but it is also not so onerous that it can’t be done, especially at the local level. Anyone who seeks office should do so with a desire to serve and best intentions. Sitting at a council table or in a school board meeting is about community, not personal benefit. You run because you want to help your community. Some may run because of an issue or a pet project that aligns with community need. In fact, advocacy for community issues often brings out people who had never thought of running for office before. There were many candidates who ran for municipal council across SDG Counties in 2018 whose backgrounds included advocating for saving rural schools, against wind turbines, and for agricultural and business issues.
Make no mistake though: there are drawbacks to being on a council or school board. Your life will be more public. Balancing family and work commitments will be more of a challenge. The financial compensation is low for the amount of work most elected officials put into the job.
If there is an issue concerning a resident or business owner, you become the go-to person. People will approach you first with municipal issues. If successfully elected, expect trips to the grocery store or the post office to take longer. You will hear about people’s problems and be expected to solve them. When things go wrong, it is your fault. When you do a good job, few will say anything.
The benefits of being an elected official for your community or school board far outweigh the negatives. You help build your community, champion issues to higher levels of government, and make significant contributions to your community. Serving at the municipal and school board level means seeing first hand immediate results when resolutions and bylaws are passed. It is a lot of responsibility but a worthwhile endeavour. For those currently serving in elected positions, the work they do should be recognized. Thank you.
On May 12, SDG Counties is holding a free information session for prospective candidates in October’s municipal and school board elections. The session will cover everything from finances to conflict of interest rules, what the roles of councillor or school board trustee are, and how elections are run. For those interested in running for municipal or school board elections, it is a good idea to go to this meeting in Long Sault to know what you are getting into. Even if you are not interested in running, but are interested in civics, it is well worth attending.
For those who seek election, thank you in advance. And like the provincial election June 2, do not forget to vote on October 24 too.