Mayor of Slave Lake
So while everyone is out enjoying themselves on the water, barbecuing with their family, sitting around the campfire cooking smores, I want to talk to you about the fifth season of 2017.
The fifth season is probably the farthest thing from your mind, and some might not even know it we are fast approaching it, but election season kicks off across Alberta in September. This is when those interested in running for municipal council put their names forward, and pitch their vision for the municipality, town, or city they live in.
This blog might be for a few select people but I want to give you some ideas on what running for council is all about.
With a population of just around 7,000 this October, we will be electing six councilors and one mayor. These elected officials will be elected on an at-large basis, where everyone gets to vote for the mayor and everyone gets to vote for six councilors. In larger urban centres, elections can be held on a ward system, where the city is divided into areas and councilors represent the area they were elected. Here in Slave Lake councilors represent the entire town, along with the mayor.
First off in order to run you have to be a Canadian citizen, 18 years or older, and have lived in Slave Lake for six months or longer. You require signatures from family or friends endorsing you, and on Sept. 18th you drop into the Town office between 10 a.m. and noon and start campaigning.
On October 18th , approximately 7,000 residents from around Slave Lake gather to vote for the next council. And if you are lucky you will be elected to help shape the future of Slave Lake, and the direction the town goes.
As a councilor you will be expected to meet three times a month for a regular council meeting, (two regular meetings and one committee of the whole). Meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and go anywhere between two–four hours. These meetings are designed for discussion, debate and decision. Council will create policy, explore ideas and often have members of the public in attendance and who wish to speak on their views or issues.
Along with those three meetings, councilors will be expected to represent council on other committees that meet in the Slave Lake Region. These committees deal with things such as, landfill, airport, economic development, protective services, Firesmart, tri-council issues, intermuinicpal discussions, library, watershed, etc.
Currently there are 15 committees, as a potential councilor you will be expected to sit on between three to six of them. Some meet during the day, others in the evening. These committees can meet up to 15 times a year. Others only as needed and can be only a couple times a year. Above that council can sometimes meet over specific topics that require many hours of discussion. Typically, council tries to do these meetings on the Tuesday before council meetings.
Above these we also deal with a couple other big items that come up on a regular annual basis.
These items include budget, strategic planning, and AUMA (conference all elected leaders throughout Alberta towns and cities attend). There is some travel but it is quite limited. You would need to have some flexibility in your schedule as ‘stuff’ comes up. Above this you need to be budget time to meet with public, hear issues, attend events, speak at community functions, etc. You will also need time to prep for meetings. The job requires a lot of reading and a quiet a bit of research.
Now this sounds like a lot and truth be told it actually is. I will admit that it is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life. The job is never boring; you learn a ton about a variety of items.
You meet some great people you otherwise would probably never get to know. It also gives you a new appreciation for what is really important. It has opened my eyes and mind to new ways of thinking and looking at things. I have also learned that good decisions usually require time and good information. I have learned that ideas are easy and plans are hard.
Over the coming weeks, current elected leaders will announce if they are interested in dedicating another four years of their life to public service. It is also our hope that some new people with new ideas that have the time and the energy step forward and put their name on the ballot.
Our community will only ever be as great as the people who shape its future. We have some outstanding people in this community and I look forward to seeing some of them step up this fall.
Good luck to all who are willing to try.