OPINION: Election time has begun, it’s time for the questions

Treat Ponoka town council candidates the same as a job interview, in this week’s editorial

The cat’s out of the bag and the race is on for Ponoka town council and mayoral candidates.

Admittedly, seeing 12 on board for council and a race of two for mayor is a welcome sign for the Town of Ponoka. It means there’s interest in the town’s future, something many rural municipalities struggle with.

The best guesses are on as to who will make the best council/mayoral candidate with many residents seeking the inside scoop from Ponoka News’ editor. It’s truly difficult to say who has what it takes to make the proverbial cut but my advice to anyone asking is to research your candidates.

Read Ponoka News feature profiles — there’s three this week and the final three next week, with the others in past editions — and there’s countless social media pages popping up for these council hopefuls. Their election signs are popping up all around town and then there’s the exciting Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce candidate forum coming up. Set for Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre, the forum is expected to be a big one with special time set up for the mayoral candidates.

Now’s the time to really ask these potentials why they are running, what matters to them and what they would like to see happen in the Town of Ponoka. Taxes? Fire departments? Growth in Ponoka? Speak about what’s important to you and take a look at their character.

Why their character? It’s their very individuality that will have a say at the table, which help shape the town for the next four years.

Are they defensive when you ask tough questions or do they shy away from them? Certainly anyone with a combative nature needs to be considered carefully.

None of these candidates will have the answer to fix everything but maybe they have what it takes to deal with tough decisions. Are they aware of the current issues within the Town of Ponoka? What do they bring to the table as far as skill sets?

Special reminder: These skill sets will be in governance, not operations. The town pays people good money to run this place; council’s part is in setting policies and moving the town forward. Your questions will help this group of individuals understand what people want, especially for the newbies to the political game.

For the incumbents the questions will most-likely relate to past decisions. You’re an educated resident in the Town of Ponoka. You know the issues that have occurred in the last four years. Now’s your chance to ask incumbents what they think or why they voted on specific issues.

It’s not about setting traps or baiting anyone, it’s about seeing what these past councillors feel is important. Maybe they had a good reason for voting on a specific issue; this would be the time to find out why. Not just why, but where the benefits for the community are in that certain decision.

Incumbents who have taken the step to run for a second term should also be commended for taking the plunge. Municipal politics can sometimes be messy, their desire to serve the community should be recognized.

For the new kids on the block, aptitude is an important quality to look out for. That and the ability to do research. As a councillor, they will receive tough requests for decisions and reading those requests takes time and patience. Voters should have that in the back of their minds when talking with candidates.

Remember, the forum set by the chamber will be another great way to meet candidates to see where they stand on issues.

Here’s the date one more time: Oct. 5 at 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre. A special mayoral forum is set for 7 to 7:30 p.m. with the other candidates after.