Municipal elections are when democracy gets fun
By Trevor J. Adams 2 May 2016 Share this story
Municipal elections are a lot of fun.
Halifax’s next municipal election is in October and this time, right now, is my favourite part of the process. Reporters are furiously sniffing around trying to figure out which incumbents will reoffer and who the serious challengers are. Will a surprise mayoral candidate emerge and give Mike Savage a fight?
The first-time candidates are my favourites. Some of them are fulfilling lifelong ambitions by running. Others have made heat-of-the-moment decisions, incited by neighbourhood problems they want to solve. I’ve never met a rookie candidate who wasn’t charmingly keen: starry-eyed optimists or angry outsiders, they’re all convinced they can build a better city.
And the beautiful thing about a municipal election is that those people can change things, and some of them will. And that’s what makes this special. If you somehow amass the money necessary to run for provincial or federal election, and somehow successfully navigate party politics, and then against all those odds (far longer odds if you’re not an affluent, white man) you win, your victory will quickly feel hollow.
You probably won’t get a cabinet portfolio. You’ll be a backbencher. Your only real shot at influencing policy will be in secretive cabinet meetings. Mostly, you’ll just dutifully follow the party line, voting as you’re supposed to, shaking hands, and cutting ribbons.
But if you win a seat on municipal council, you’re immediately in the thick of it. You have a seat at the big table, and you can champion your ideas. The decisions you’re part of have an immediate impact on the lives of your fellow citizens. Snow removal, politics, fire, policing, transit, parks, property developments—those are the issues that affect lives every day.
On page 10, humourist Bill Carr shares an essay on why and how you should get involved in the municipal elections. There is little I can add to his excellent thoughts: I hope a lot of you take his advice. Lively elections make for a healthy democracy.
That essay mentioned above is Bill Carr’s first contribution to Halifax Magazine. We’re pleased to have him involved. Look for more from him in future issues. We’re also happy to have our first story from new contributor Abena Amoako-Tuffour in this issue. She explores a program bringing Argentine tango (and tea) to senior citizens.
In sadder news, this is designer Beth Muzzerall’s last issue of Halifax Magazine, as she leaves us to pursue a new opportunity. Over the last few years, Beth has designed many of our eye-catching covers, and is personally responsible for much of the magazine’s visual style. We’re going to miss her a lot.
This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.
Trevor has been a magazine editor and journalist in Halifax since 1998. He's won multiple Atlantic Journalism Awards and was shortlisted for the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence in 2014.
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