Monday, July 07, 2008

Good Editorial in Today's T-C

We are just four months away from the local elections and people who are serious have to be building their campaign and teams now. The TC had this good editorial on it today. All I hope is that they make more effort to cover to the local elections than what they have done in the past.

Decision time for candidates Times Colonist Published: Monday, July 07, 2008

If you woke up this morning with the notion that you should run for a spot on a municipal council or school board this fall, take a deep breath and think again. Time is running out. For some, it might already be too late.

Yes, the municipal elections are still more than four months away, but that is not as much time as you might think. We raise this issue because so far, not many new people have stepped forward to fill the seats that will be up for grabs on Nov. 15. Holding back is not a good idea; the people who declare themselves to be candidates early will have more time to market themselves to voters.

Running for council is not something that should be done on a whim. To be a successful candidate, a person needs to have name recognition, because voters are not likely to pick a name that is not familiar to them.

Of course, it takes more than just being well-known to be able to make decisions about the future of a municipality. If recognition is the only thing that matters, Pamela Anderson could win a mayor's chair in a flash.

To be qualified for a spot on council, a person should have a strong background in the community and a keen interest in civic or education matters. A basic understanding of the workings of local government, as well as experience on local boards or advisory committees, would be an asset.

If that sounds like a job description, so be it. Think of the voters as a hiring committee and determine how to convince them that you are the best person for the job.

A vision -- some idea of what you would want to accomplish if elected -- would help. You should be able to explain your agenda as you go from door to door looking for support.

All-candidates forums will be vital, and you would need to promote and defend your views in front of a few dozen people. If you are not prepared, a forum could be a stressful, humiliating experience. (And if it's any consolation, it is always worse for the incumbents.)

Many people who decide to run for an elected office don't have a chance. They might have the knowledge required and a keen desire to make things better, but they haven't done the homework needed to make themselves electable. Some of these people would make excellent councillors or trustees, but the failure to win a seat the first time out turns them away from the dream.

The best choice for some would be to look to the next election, not this one, and use the three extra years to build a foundation for an election victory.

So if you're interested in running for a council seat but have not started working on it yet, you might consider running in 2011 instead of 2008.

If you're committed to making a bid for office this year, what's keeping you? The sooner you start your campaign, the sooner the voters will know who you are.
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