Tracy Hughes

Tracy Hughes

Column: Don’t run blind

The municipal election is in October but preparations are starting now

The municipal election is in October but preparations are starting now.

Things already kicked off earlier in the year with incumbent mayor Nancy Cooper confirming at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that she would make a bid for another term.

This was followed by current councillor and now-retired principal Alan Harrison, who said now is the right time for him to try and win the top job at the City of Salmon Arm.

Now two current councillors, Tim Lavery and Kevin Flynn, have also confirmed their intentions to run again. Lavery’s Monday announcement was soon followed up by an email from rookie candidate Aaron Brookes, who pointed out he announced his intentions to run for council last November 17, 2017 on Facebook.

This election will also herald the return of a leaner elected school board with five trustees, down from the previous nine. That board, mired in scandal and dysfunction, was dismissed by the education minister in 2016. It will be very interesting to see if any of the former trustees decide to put their names forward again, although my money is on that being a no.

Why would anyone want to wade back in after having been fired and forced to publicly continue to answer for the tremendous community concern surrounding the development and funding for the new administrative District Education Support Centre on Shuswap Street?

This may mean a school board created entirely of rookies to the job – also a difficult proposition for anyone considering putting their name forward.

The school district is being proactive and this coming Monday, May 7 will be offering an information session for prospective trustees. It is being held at the District Education Support Centre starting at 6 p.m. It is aimed at giving those interested in running a look at the roles and responsibilities of being a school board trustee.

This is important because Liz Watson, in her recommendations from a review of the workings of the previous school board, noted that this role seemed to be misunderstood. For example, trustees are elected from a particular zone, but then are required to place their emphasis on what decision is best for the entire school district, not just one piece of the region.

A session like the school district is hosting might also be of benefit to prospective municipal councillors – allowing potential city politicians a chance to hear what the job is really like before jumping into the fray.

But there is another way for candidates to educate themselves.

I am always amazed at the number of candidates who put their names forward but have never actually been to a single meeting. A little prior knowledge is a good thing. So my biggest piece of advice for anyone considering the job is to actually attend a meeting – a few would be even better.

Salmon Arm Observer