Monday, October 08, 2012

The litmus test

Regina's municipal election is fast approaching - with advance voting set to begin this week. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of candidates (which, to be clear, I take to be a positive sign as to public interest in the election) will limit my ability to write about all of the options individually. But I'll take some time to discuss both the criteria I'm looking for in determining who to support, and a few candidates who look particularly promising as potential additions to Regina's municipal governing bodies.

At the outset, in the absence of a party system, it's absolutely essential for a successful municipal representative to be able to work with others and try to build consensus around issues. It's possible to make plenty of noise criticizing the status quo, but impossible to actually bring about change without some ability to reach out to others who won't agree on all issues.

But a healthy interest in cooperation shouldn't be seen as a reason to turn the city's governing bodies into closed clubs with no interest in listening to public input. And that's where matters have gone off the rails in recent years: all too often, our representatives have done nothing but circle the wagons and shut down debate on issues which plainly call for serious discussion.

What's more, in addition to ensuring that representatives are out of touch generally, that philosophy also ensures that city policy is easily captured by the big-money special interests who have hand-selected so many of our candidates.

So my two-part test for municipal candidates is this. Does the candidate hold a strong enough core of values to ensure that he or she will be more than just a yes-person parroting whatever schemes get drawn up for a rubber-stamp? And at the same time, does the candidate have the inclination and skill to put those values into practice by working with others?

Needless to say, the above isn't an easy test to meet. But again, I'll offer a few suggestions in a future post.

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