Thinking of running in next year’s local government election?
While October 2022 is a ways away, here are some tips passed on to me over the years to help prepare for leadership for Salmon Arm.
• Understand the budget process: It’ll take more than one year to do this, so get started asap. It’s the most fundamental and challenging task for locally elected officials as they must decide on the funding for core essential services, saving for future initiatives and choosing between many worthwhile competing proposals – all amidst limited funding. The 2022 city budget is being drafted by staff right now, will be reviewed by council on Nov. 29 and 30, and then formally adopted in mid-December 2021. It’s a complex and detailed process that candidates should generally understand – especially with the 2023 budget being one of the first major decisions the next council will be making.
• Touch base with previous and current council members: Lots of valuable perspectives and practical knowledge will be shared.
• Carefully consider the time commitments involved: There’re many more time demands than four meetings per month! If you have a fair degree of control over your own schedule, you’re likely good to go. However, if your personal responsibilities involve set expectations of your time, it’s best to sort this out well before running in the election. If you have an employer, they’ll need to be flexible, understanding and on-board.
• Read, read, read: Being an effective council member involves having a handle on a range of background materials. Now’s the time to start reading the full agendas and researching staff and commissioned reports. From policing to parks to policy (of all sorts), there’s lots to digest.
• Listen up too: Attend council sessions once there’s a return to in-person participation; tune in to virtual council meetings or review council recordings on the city’s YouTube channel.
• Follow the Union of BC Municipalities: Issues and initiatives usually resonate with all B.C. local governments and there’s little need to reinvent the wheel on effective policy options or approaches. It’s valuable to understand the common voices and experience of other local governments.
• Embrace study: As a candidate, you need to be truly comfortable with continuous learning.
There’s a whole year to get as ready as possible to offer your leadership for our city’s future. Salmon Arm will benefit from your preparedness.
Tim Lavery is a councillor with the City of Salmon Arm.