Break out the crystal ball

We’re going to be hearing a lot more from our municipal politicians in the next few months, after all, it’s an election year.

I feel pretty safe in making this prediction about 2014.

We’re going to be hearing a lot more from our municipal politicians in the next few months, after all, it’s an election year.

I’ve often thought about conducting a research study on the length of council meetings throughout a politician’s term.

In their first year of being elected, councillors are usually eager to air their views, and expound a bit on the projects they championed throughout the election. Then, things get quieter as they put their heads down during the middle year. Often this is because they quickly learn that you can’t please everyone and it’s much more difficult to be critiqued for what you say instead of what you don’t say.

But then comes an election year. And for anyone looking to put their name back on the ballot, it’s time to ensure that your face and name are associated with the current issues. It’s important to be seen as a doer, and to get that message out. So council meetings lengthen out as the politicians strive to explain their decision-making and espouse their current agenda.

While the election isn’t until November, there’s no doubt ideas are starting to percolate in the minds of current political types and those who have aspirations to the office.

I’m confident Mayor Nancy Cooper’s name will be on the ballot. There’s also already been some serious scuttlebutt around whether our current member of Parliament Colin Mayes will choose to return to being a big fish in a small pond and make a bid for the mayor’s chair, rather than continue with his role on the backbenches in Ottawa.

Also don’t count out a bid from former councillor Kevin Flynn, who was undoubtedly disappointed with the outcome of the last contest. Coun. Chad Eliason is also a name I wouldn’t be surprised to see. But whoever’s tossing the idea around either for mayor or council should take some time to examine their motivations.

Sitting on city council is a tough job. It requires a lot of effort into understanding that you can’t just sweep into office and make unilateral changes. There’s a whole host of policies and procedures, staffing agreements and previous commitments – not to mention the six other members of the council – that constrain local politicians.

I’m also always skeptical of the hopefuls who claim to be able to run the government without any tax increases. No one likes tax hikes, me included, but anyone who thinks that making sweeping reductions to government services would be easy, needs to think again. Every cut has an impact, every time a council decides to postpone maintaining infrastructure has a cost too. If roads, or water or sewer systems deteriorate, the taxpayer will pay – just at a later date.

I certainly hope a wide selection of candidates comes forward. The community benefits from a diversity of viewpoints. But I also hope we get people who are in it for the right reasons.