We have an election coming up, namely, the municipal election for the city of Whitehorse. Voting day is October 18th. Elected will be a mayor and six councilors. There is no incumbent running for the mayor’s position and four incumbents running for council seats.
This means I have less than two weeks to figure out who gets my vote (actually, multiple votes as you check off one vote for mayor and up to six for council. There are 5 mayoralty candidates and 22 running for council). In the 21 years I’ve lived here, I’ve voted for a possible mayor every time but have yet to actually cast six council votes in any election.
Checking out the list of candidates this time around, I don’t see much hopes of finding six to vote for again. It was only shortly before the deadline for nominations that I could see a choice for mayor that didn’t include “none of the above.”
So here are some hints for those who want to get voted in. Note that this probably applies for all elections. A political campaign is a job interview of sorts and the electorate’s only way to choose the right person for the job is the platform put forward by the candidate. So, when expressing your platform:
1. If you intend to deal with an issue, explain how you intend to fix it in detail. Everyone loves kittens, rainbows and unicorns, but general campaign promises without details are usually best moved to the field with a backhoe to make next year’s crop grow that much better. If you cannot provide details, it means you know nothing about the subject other than what to call it. Honestly, we have enough elected representatives who know nothing. We don’t need more.
2. Prove you have an understanding of jurisdictional responsibility. Each level of government has its responsibilities. If you’re running for one, don’t make promises about things that come under another level of government. This only indicates that you have no clue about the position you aspire to, and probably indicates your level of qualification for it.
3. If you promise something, be prepared to vote that way when the time comes. There is no excuse for supporting something you said you would not support or vice versa. The common story is “after studying the issue,…” or words to that effect. If it was a promise made in your campaign, it meant that you already studied the issue, or should have. Changing your mind in this manner means you either knew nothing about your stand on the issue, or you simply meant to lie your way into office. Unfortunately, we have too many of those cases, too.
4. Have some idea of how financing works. While governments and businesses run through two completely different models and experience in one has no relevance to the other, the general rules of finance are still the same. You can only spend what comes in. Whether through transfers, taxation or borrowing, this income is the maximum you have to provide vital services. And, unlike a business, you simply can’t close the plant and move to somewhere offering lower operating costs. Explain (in detail, again), how you intend to meet your promises and still afford to provide those services.
5. Be honest. Admit it when you don’t know something. Take responsibility for those times when your ideas don’t work. Sometimes you’re going to have to make unpopular decisions (some of the decisions the current council have been decried for are some I heartily approved of). People aren’t going to be happy with everything you do, but will be far more willing to accept it, grudgingly, if you can show you honestly and sincerely feel this is the best choice. The only way to do this is have a long history of being honest and sincere and it doesn’t take much to indicate that these are characteristics you don’t have.
So, there’s my pitch. These aren’t that much in the way of demands for buying my vote. I know it seems a lot, but you’ll probably find that the same price will purchase far more votes than mine…