So you want to run for council

Running for town council? Read these tips in this week's editorial to prepare.

Municipal elections are just over a year away and already whispers of people considering running are making their way around the coffee table.

Whatever the motivation, taking on the role as a representative of the community requires some kudos; the job isn’t easy but has some great potential if one’s heart is in the right place. You will help shape the future of the community and be part of a group that builds Ponoka from a grassroots level.

That being said, it is important to realize that decisions being made as a council have an overarching effect on the community. Taking a course of action to help one group or friend may unwittingly hurt another group’s goals. Whatever your intentions the community as a whole must be considered in your decision-making.

The following tips come from five years of reporting on town, and some county, council meetings and may come in handy when considering whether you should run for public office.

Teamwork: If you want to be effective as a council I recommend practicing your conflict resolution skills.

Things are going to get heated, passionate and at times frustrating, not only with you and other councillors but with other councils and groups. It is imperative that your actions are conducive to creating an environment of trust. It’s like any relationship, if you want to make it work you can’t hold a grudge. Work out your problems in a respectful manner and you will see how effective a council can be.

Four years: A term of council is four years; if you already have little time for family and friends due to a heavy workload then you better bail.

Seriously, you’re not doing anyone any favours if you’re too busy to get involved.

People vote for you to represent them not to just finish out your term because you feel like you have to. It can be time consuming but the personal rewards for shaping the future of the community are great, it would be a shame to miss out on that because you can’t find the time or are too tired.

Understand the role: You can’t make everyone happy. I guarantee you in the four years of your term you’re going to upset somebody.

This is why it’s important to have a strong, active administration running things. You pay them to make you look good. Luckily the town has an administration that is providing the right information to council and is ready to act. Whatever happened in the past is over, this administration wants to follow through with strategic plans and help move the town forward.

Hear all sides: This goes hand-in-hand with understanding your role. While you can’t make everyone happy you can certainly hear all sides of a question. It is in the community’s best interest to look at the different perspectives and make an educated decision.

Back your decisions: Regardless of the outcome of a motion, if you can’t back up what you voted on then you need to rethink your motivation.

Be prepared to explain yourself to the press, residents and stakeholders. They are liable to ask tough questions and you should be able to provide a response. Hiding behind the mayor, in-camera or any other political rhetoric is disingenuous and frankly, cowardly. Honesty goes a long way to mitigate someone’s anger over a decision, and it may just help them understand.

Family and conflict of interest: You will need to recuse yourself from a decision if it involves an immediate family member or if there is potential financial benefit to you or them. You will put yourself and the town in an awkward position if you break this rule. Don’t do it.

Have fun: Enjoy your time as a councillor. It can be a rewarding experience.

The last is a bit of a cliché but there will be times of uncertainty and probably sleepless nights. That means you care. In those times it may be a good rule of thumb to remember that it’s OK to laugh.

 

Just Posted

Ponoka Stampeders zero for two against Stettler Lightning

Stamps prepare for Sunday home game against the Cochrane Generals

Ponoka cowboy Vernon (Bud) Butterfield passes away

The Ponoka Stampede Association announced his passing Friday

Ponoka’s ag event centre busy with show jumping event

Equine show jumpers came to the Calnash Ag Event Centre for a show jumping event

Environment Minister clarifies misconceptions in Bighorn proposal

Minister Shannon Phillips speaks to concerns around the Bighorn Country

Three Ponoka men and one youth charged in assault case

Police obtained a search warrant and located drugs and sawed-off shot gun

VIDEO: Students in MAGA hats mock Native American at Indigenous Peoples March

Diocese in Kentucky says it is investigating the matter, caught on video by onlookers

WATCH: Team Alberta in Red Deer this weekend to prepare for Canada Winter Games

About 250 Team Alberta athletes toured venues and tested out facilities Saturday

CONSUMER REPORT: What to buy each month in 2019 to save money

Resolve to buy all of the things you want and need, but pay less money for them

Anxiety in Alaska as endless aftershocks rattle residents

Seismologists expect the temblors to continue for months, although the frequency has lessened

Women’s March returns across the U.S. amid shutdown and controversy

The original march in 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, drew hundreds of thousands of people

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Ponoka RCMP are looking for a missing man

Police say he may be in Drayton Valley and they are worried for his wellbeing

Dog dies saving B.C. family from burning home

Homeowners safe but one pet missing, another confirmed dead following fire

Most Read