An open letter to politicians, prospective politicians, voters and the politically apathetic Editorial
By Stephen Dafoe

Next Monday is an important day in Alberta, particularly that precise moment when the clock strikes noon. And while it may be nothing more than the start of the noon hour for many Albertans, it will also mark the end of nominations for the 2010 municipal elections. The Municipal Government Act requires candidates for mayor and council to file their nomination papers between the hours of 10 and 12 on Nomination Day – Sept. 20, 2010.

It is at that moment that voters will know who will be seeking their vote and politicians and prospective politicians will know who they will be competing against for that vote, if anyone at all. During the 2007 municipal election Gibbons and Morinville councils were both given their seats without the need to pound in any lawn signs or pound on anyone’s door. For Gibbons Mayor Bill Nimmo it was his sixth nomination day without an opponent. In both towns there were just enough people interested in running to fill the positions available.

Granted, municipal politics does not carry with it the glamour, paycheque or perks that provincial and federal politics do, but it is no less important than the other two orders of government. In fact, there are those, including Ron Hayter, Edmonton’s longest-serving councillor, who would argue that municipal government is the most important of the three because it is the one closest to the people.

And yet few of us pay any attention to what goes on in council chambers or the decisions they make until it directly affects our pocket book or if something council has approved gets planted in our backyard.

Sure, sitting through a council meeting may be at times as exciting as watching a block of cheddar age. And as someone who sits through approximately eight council meetings each month, I can tell you first hand they are often far less exciting than watching cheese age.

But dealing with the minutia of community business, whether for reporters or politicians, is a necessary evil, as is reading and digesting the hundreds of pages of documents that mayors and councillors must wade through to make informed decisions on our behalf.

It is a job that takes up a considerable amount of time and one that often goes without praise when done right but always receives criticism when done wrong. That’s not to say that there are not hundreds of other community-minded volunteers putting in long hours for the betterment of the community, but at least they usually get a plaque, ribbon or a dinner every year for their efforts.

As we embark on another municipal election season, we owe it to ourselves, our neighbours and our community to acknowledge the contribution municipal politicians and those who will throw their hats in the ring next Monday to take a chance at becoming municipal politicians make. And that acknowledgement can only come in the form of becoming informed, informed about who is running in your community and what their position is on the issues and what their vision for the future of your community is. Then and only then can you put the appropriate mark in the appropriate box to elect or reject the candidate. will do its part to keep you informed, first by reporting on the complete list of who is running in your community, and second by inviting each municipal candidate, be they vying for the mayor’s seat or a council’s chair to submit a guest editorial outlining why the voting public should place the governance of our communities in their care.

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