On October 27, 2014, Ottawa voters will once again vote on their next City Council. The election will have some old faces and many, many new faces. It up to you, the voter, to elect a competent and hard working Council that will guide Ottawa to bigger and better things.
The past four years have had its share of star councillors who have worked hard to make Ottawa a better city. But it has also had its share of duds who have wasted much of the city's valuable resources by not contributing to constructive debate or not doing the necessary work to provide the City with good governance. So, it is up to the Ottawa voter to vote for change, not for the sake of change, but for a better city.
So far, there are four wards where the incumbent is not running so change is inevitable in those wards. There may be more… my fingers are crossed.
However, for the wards that have incumbents seeking another term in office, voters need to a good look at the alternatives and vote for change if they could. They need to get out and vote for the person who will help shape Ottawa for the future. Make it a better place to live, work and play. One of the problems that plague many a democratic election is the power of elected officials to get re-elected.
This stems from their participation with high percentage voting groups such as community associations. Name recognition also works in their favour for those who come out to vote but don’t follow local politics on a day-to day basis. So, the challenge for a new candidate is to overcome the advantage of an incumbent. This is where this 'voter's guide to change' comes in.
I give you the following 5 rules that will help you make the hard choice to vote for change and vote for a stronger City Council. And, the longer your incumbent councillor has been at City Hall, the greater the need to make a change:
Forget about the incumbent for a minute and focus on the platforms of the challengers. Are there any candidates who reflect your feelings about the city and your community? Their platform doesn't have to be 100% what you would want but should be mostly along the lines of what you would want for your neighbourhood.
What are the qualifications of the challenger? Do they have any past experience that would help them in their job as a city councillor? It doesn't have to be public office related, just something that demonstrates that they can work with others, tackle tough problems methodically, and able to talk to people straightforwardly and honestly.
Do they have a positive outlook for the City? There are a lot of angry candidates who just like to bash the incumbents or City officials. That usually leads to an obstructionist councillor and that isn't good in a team environment. A positive candidate will look for the win/win situations that would work to the Council's benefit.
Don’t get bogged down in the statistics, numbers and workings of municipal government. Incumbents will usually know way more than a challenger because they live and breathe city affairs. A successful challenger will quickly learn the ropes at City Hall.
Don't be afraid to vote for change. No one person can unilaterally change anything. There are 23 councillors and a Mayor who all get one vote so getting a majority of votes to pass anything radical is pretty unlikely.
If your vote for change doesn't work out too well this time around, you get to vote for someone new in four more years. If you have a candidate that satisfies these 5 rules, then don’t be afraid to vote for him or her.
In fact, I strongly urge you to vote for that candidate in order to give a new voice around the table at City Hall. Your vote counts and City Council needs to evolve to make Ottawa an even better city.