Waters: Impact of municipal politics greater than many think

Time for those in the community to step up and lead

Serving on municipal councils, school boards and regional district boards is viewed by many as the minor leagues of Canadian politics.

While the power may not be as far-reaching, or the jobs as glamorous as they are in provincial or federal realm, it can be argued the day-to-day impact on Canadians is greater at the municipal level.

That’s because cities, towns, villages, regional districts and school boards make things work.

The province and the feds may provide money to help pay for infrastructure projects, but it’s the municipalities and school districts that create the plans that show what’s needed.

And then they operate and maintain the facilities and the infrastructure, as well as provide services for their residents.

In short, it’s municipalities that make toilets flush, pave the roads and keep the street lights lit. And it’s school districts that educate our children.

Civic politicians are also the most accessible in the country.

Sure, you can stand before them at your local city halls and board of education offices and make a presentation.

But you can also buttonhole them in the grocery store checkout line about issues that concern you, or bend their ear at the local gas bar.

The very nature of the job takes our provincial and federal politicians out of the community for extended periods but municipal politicians work in the community—and in many cases have day jobs, too.

On Monday, the 10-day nomination period for those planning to run in this year’s civic election opened.

Between now and Sept. 14, the men and woman who want to sit on council, the local board of education and the regional district board will file their nomination papers and swing into election mode.

Civic-minded men and women will seek public support in order to work for taxpayers over the next four years, knowing not all of their decisions will be popular with everyone.

Some may view it as a thankless task. Others just won’t care.

A 30 per cent voter turnout is considered high in municipal elections.

But when holes start being dug outside their homes, construction starts, water quality deteriorates or recreation programs are cancelled, the folks who didn’t bother showing up to vote demand answers from the people they didn’t vote for.

The men and women who throw their hats into the election ring deserve credit for doing what so many others are not willing to do—stand up and be counted when it comes to offering one’s self up for public service.

These people are willing to do what most others are not—lead.

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