Make A Difference

Make a Difference in your Community. Run for City Council!
Are you interested in making a difference by helping to create a community that is vibrant and welcoming? Do you have a vision that provides a greater quality of life for your fellow citizens? The 2015 City Council election is an opportunity to express that vision and we encourage you to consider running for municipal council.

That’s the message that optimists frequently deliver when attempting to encourage prospective residents to consider running for a public service position … however, for anyone considering taking on the challenge, the harsher side of reality must be taken into consideration as well!
What kind of person would run for council?
Anyone who is a resident and meets the requirements can run for council office. There are a total of four positions open this year. Candidates for these positions will be comprised of local people - business owners, employees, teachers, retired people, real estate agents, parents, grandparents – they are your neighbors, your relatives, your family; people you will see in the grocery stores, in the bowling alleys, on the golf courses, walking their dogs on local sidewalks, people who went to local schools, or go local churches, have families, shop at the mall, exercise at the Y, donate to local charities. Sometimes people get angry at council and forget that councilors are ordinary, local people, just like they are.

Democracy is best served by a wide range of ideas, experiences, skills, opinions and attitudes. Debate is crucial, so is dissent. That can be emotional and trying. Few people are raised in a work or home environment where debate, argument and intellectual challenge are common. We tend to avoid confrontation. But council is often embroiled in it and it can be acrimonious. For many people, caustic debate is a stressful and anxiety-laden time. That’s why people often choose committee and board work where cooperation is more common than controversy. That’s also why an angry or loud voice can dominate the council table, even bully other council members, because most people don’t want to fight.

Every person on council, even those I disagreed with, or whom I personally disliked, I respect for running for office and for accepting the burden this places on them. Every one of them cared passionately and deeply for the community and their causes. I didn’t have to like or agree with them to respect the challenges and stresses they share. In my opinion, they all ran for office because they cared enough to accept the responsibilities that go with it.

If you want to run for council, as long as you meet the requirements, do so. 
Here are my caveats and considerations:
  • Be prepared to have your integrity questioned, your honesty assaulted, your best efforts at being fair and open ridiculed, your wisdom and experience deprecated, your credibility and reputation eroded.
  • Be prepared for you and your decisions to be publicly insulted, ridiculed, dismissed and your sanity questioned. Be prepared to be misunderstood, to have simple mistakes or innocent comments turned into public humiliations, to have off-the-cuff remarks hung around you like an albatross. Be prepared for misinformation and disinformation to be used against you, sometimes deliberately, sometimes maliciously.
  • And you should expect to make mistakes, trust me. Humans naturally do, but when you are in politics, those mistakes will stay with you. Unlike in your personal life, you won’t be able to take your mistakes back or beg forgiveness. If you wake up the next day and realize you cast the wrong vote, too bad. Live with it. Few people will accept your apologies. The media will dredge out old comments, old quotes, old votes and remind people of your foolishness long after you had forgotten it.
  • Be prepared to be frustrated by process and procedural rules, to be disappointed that everyone else doesn’t share your enthusiasm for your ideas or initiatives, to be slowed by budgetary realities, and see even simple goals take years to achieve.
  • Be prepared to trim some of your election promises and your fondest, most fervently-held dreams in order to achieve more modest and more realistic compromises.
  • Be prepared to have your preconceptions publicly refuted, your ideas and beliefs overturned, and your core values challenged – and then reported in the media for everyone to see or hear.
  • Be prepared to swallow your pride and vote for something you don’t like, something you don’t want or agree with, because it’s simply the only viable choice. You will be vilified if you change your stance, and vilified if you don’t.
  • Be prepared to be lobbied by both individual residents and groups, sometimes relentlessly. People will call you at home, at work, in the middle of the night to talk about issues, argue, denounce and confront you. And a few will also congratulate you.
  • Sometimes you get so many emails or calls on an issue that just can’t respond to all of them.
  • To perform the job properly, you will have to work at the job – reading, learning, asking questions, digging through books, files, records, agendas and minutes. You will have to learn the byzantine rules of procedure, codes of conduct, and read dense laws and bylaws governing your every action.
  • You will have to learn to be cool, calm and restrain your anger, even when you feel yourself under attack. And you have to learn to let your failures go.
  • Everything you say or do will become public. Casual jokes, off-hand remarks, personal habits, your dress and appearance, even simply not hearing a comment properly or losing your place in the agenda will be repeated in the media and the coffee shops.
  • No matter what decision you make, someone will disagree. Someone will be angry at you for it. Someone will think you a fool. Or worse. You will be accused of being underhanded, dishonest, disingenuous, secretive and manipulative. Even if you made the best decision you could, in the most open and transparent manner, even if you believed that your decision was the absolute best for the community and its residents, it will be questioned and attacked by those you failed to please.
  • Even more frustrating, things you ran on, things you were elected for, things you believed in when you made your decisions, will be challenged, discredited and ridiculed by both the public who elected you and the media when that decision does not meet their post-election expectations.
  • It will affect your work, your family, your friendships, your recreation time. You will lose friends and customers. You may gain others, but that won’t make the loss hurt any less.

If you have a thick enough skin for that, if you think you can still rise above the tribulations and give it your best effort every meeting, then by all means, run for office!
If you don’t feel you have the character make up to run then I hope you’ll instead support those who are willing to run for election or who may currently hold a position; or in the least I hope you’ll begin to build an greater appreciation for those that do.

For those still serious about running
To become a candidate for office, a voter must complete and file a declaration of candidacy. Online filing is May 11-15 or paper forms must be returned no later than May 15 at 4:30 p.m.

At the time of filing, voters must:
  • Possess the qualifications specified by law  for the office;
  • Be properly registered to vote in the district represented by the office; and 
  • Submit the filing fee or a filing fee petition
Read the 2015 Candidate Manual for details about becoming a candidate for office.

Candidate workshops

Key dates and deadlines for 2015
All important dates and deadlines can be found in the 2015 Candidate Manual.
  • In-person candidate filing: Monday, May 11 at 8:30 a.m. through Friday, May 15 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Online candidate filing: Monday, May 11 at 9 a.m. through Friday, May 15 at 4 p.m.
  • Deadline for candidates to withdraw: Monday, May 18 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Local voters’ pamphlet submission period
    • For the primary election : Monday, May 11 at 8:30 a.m. through Wednesday, May 20 at 4:30 p.m.
    • For the general election: Monday, July 20 at 8:30 a.m. through Friday, August 7 at 4:30 p.m.
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