THINKING NEXT MUNICIPAL ELECTION? HALF WAY THERE

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It seems longer, but we just passed the second anniversary of the last one (Oct. 27, 2014) and, obviously therefore, two years until the next. From a news standpoint, it has been a boring two years: no fighting, little public belittling of staff and, except for a little noise about the possible incinerator, no decisions that sparked any public debate.

Not that those things are good necessarily, but they do give the scribblers something to write about.

Going into the last two years, it’s doubtful that we’ll see much more action than this, unless maybe things heat up when the next election is called. Sometimes getting things done doesn’t seem as important to some people when there are political points to be made.

Not a lot of earth-shattering things have been done, although they did dig in on the New Arena and voted to get the Public Works Centre rebuilt. It isn’t that this Council doesn’t want to get things done, it’s that they often don’t know how. Even if they did know how, they’re always stuck with the same old problem: no money without really jacking up taxes. And that isn’t likely to improve much.

But, looking forward to the next election for a moment, the Province has tweaked the rules for the next municipal elections. Nothing huge, and most of it is work for the clerks, but there a few things that might make a difference to people other than the candidates themselves:

  • The nomination period will now open on May 1 instead of January 1. How does this affect you? It might give you a little more politician-free time, because they’re not supposed to campaign until they’re nominated;
  • The nomination period will now end the 4th Friday in July instead of the 2nd Friday in September. Whether you want to or not, you’ll know who’s running a month a half earlier;
  • Municipalities will now have the option of using ranked ballots. That means that, for each position, there will be a whole list of choices and, instead of marking the one you want, you rank them order of desirability. For City Councillors in Thorold, that might not work so well under our at large system. As it is, voters are asked to pick eight out of the however many are running (18 last time). Under our system, if everybody has the same last choice, that person could well end up with the majority of votes. If any municipality does adopt this method, the ballot will look like a novel: bring your lunch;
  • All campaign advertising will now have to list responsibility for that advertising. No one will be able to pass off an unpopular opinion as the fault of some faceless campaign worker (it does happen occasionally);
  • This one has the prospect of being the most obvious to the voter: each candidate will have to be endorsed by twenty-five signatures. Hopefully this will contribute to the end of 18-candidate elections, as some might have trouble finding 25 people to say, publicly and in writing, that their candidacy is a good idea.

In the meantime, though, two more years, however you may feel about that.

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