I look for vision, passion and honesty.
The problem with the criteria I have is that I can not make a decision without knowing the candidate to some extent. Seeing them for a few seconds at an all candidates meeting or reading their information normally does not give me what I need to know about them. I have always taken time to personally meet candidates in all elections to get a sense of who they are, the downside of this is that I often end up campaigning for them - that is a downside because I normally do not have the time for that in my life.
I look for candidates that have a vision where they want their community to be. It does not need to be a huge vision of physical changes, it can be a vision of values that matter. I also look for a vision that is realistic and focused on the positive. Maintaining the status quo is a negative vision for me.
In the Victoria election I see Rob Reid as the candidate with a vision for the city versus Dean Fortin who I am not sure what his vision is beyond some values that he shares with almost everyone. I feel bad saying something negative about Dean because I like him as a guy, but I need to see that energy of a positive vision.
Passion is crucial for me in supporting candidate. I want someone that feels the need to work for the city we want. I would almost say that they have a calling in the most traditional sense of the word. I mean a positive passion, there are many people out there who have a passionate belief that is negative, as an example, the Council of Canadians approach to Americans. I want candidates that are excited to be on council, that wake up in the mornings and look forward to talking to people about the community, that are willing to advocate for what matters to people.
I look at the current council in Langford and see a complete lack of passion other than from Stew Young. In the case of Stew Young the passion he has of making Langford some where desirable for people to live is a wonderful testament to his passion and vision, the problem is that the last several terms of council have seen his positive passion often come out in a negative way now.
Vic Derman - there is a man with passion. I know a lot of my conservative friends will see him as a dangerous lefty, but his vision and passion is one that they could work with and thrive under.
Honesty is the hardest value for me to judge without having a long term connection to candidates. I go from the assumption that someone is honest until they prove me otherwise. There are people out there I would not support because I had some interactions with them, or people I know have had some, that were less than open and honest. I will not name them because I feel that simply goes beyond the sort of thing I want to talk about. Thankfully it is a rare person that is not generally honest.
So, that is the criteria I use. In the areas where I do not know the people well, I avoid making endorsements because I can not judge if they meet my most important values.