Existing vs. New Candidates

Here are some thoughts to ponder as we head into a municipal election year. These questions have been compiled from a wide range of sources including speakers at conferences and workshops, various publications, community discussions, and also from a book entitled Electing Better Politicians, available online at www.municipalworld.com.

 

These are by no means the only questions to ask, but it's a start - get talking!

 

 

Existing Candidates vs. New Candidates

 

Considerations for the Incumbents:

  • How long have they been around? Will issues of age, health or technology be a roadblock in the next four years?

  • Have they shown interest in, and been flexible with, new ideas? Or are they lost in the world of “We’ve always done it that way”?

  • Have they shown flexibility on an issue after discussion or do they make a decision and refuse to budge no matter what?

  • Do they listen? Are they hearing the voters?

  • Have they proven to be an independent thinker or did they just go along with others?

  • Even if you disagreed with their position or decision, were they polite and respectful in the discussion?

  • Do they seem informed on issues?

  • Were they available to the public and media over the last 4 years or have they hidden behind an answering machine, the CAO or their spouse?

  • Did they respond to your call or email in a polite and timely manner?

  • Are they approachable? Have they taken time to talk to you and to others about any concerns?

  • Have they reached out to the community for input or only responded to direct enquiries?

  • Have they shown a willingness to work with others as a team?

  • Have they actively participated in anything that provides for open, two-way communication?

  • Do you believe them?

  • Do you trust them? 

  • Do they have community support?

  • Have they represented the community well, professionally and with integrity?

  • Is this someone you want as a leader of your community?

 

Considerations for New Candidates

 

Firstly, give ‘em a break; the learning curve is steep.

 

  • Are they being supported by people YOU know and respect?

  • Will they be able to listen, watch and learn or do they think they’re going to “get in there and show them how it’s done”?

  • Do you think you can you trust them to do the right thing (which isn’t necessarily the popular thing)?

  • Do they KNOW your community; have they been involved with community committees, boards and events or did they appear out of nowhere?

  • Would they be good at understanding the subtleties of politics or are they a bull in a china shop?

  • Do their ideas make sense or are they promising to cut your taxes in half and get YOUR road plowed first?

  • Do they have a reasoned and analytical way of discussing things or do they think they know it all and talk over people?

  • Do they know when to pursue an issue and when to back off?

  • Do they listen to opposing opinions and process them, or dismiss those who think differently?

  • Do you think they can the handle pressure and criticism that comes from both the public and the media?

  • Do they have the determination to stand firm on tough issues or will they wilt under pressure?

  • Will they be able to accept losing a vote on an issue about which they’re passionate and NOT bad-mouth those who voted differently?

  • Do you think they can handle being a “public figure” and being asked about council issues at the grocery store, gas station and dinner party?

  • And when they’re asked about council issues at the grocery store, the gas station and the dinner party will they reply appropriately, professionally and courteously or will they blab confidential information all over the place?

  • Do they have a wide range of knowledge and experiences they can apply to the job or do they only know a lot about one thing?

  • Do you think they can handle the painfully slow process of municipal procedure (it’s like quick sand…)?

 

Considerations for Both:

 

  • Do you see them out and about in the community or are they rarely seen in public? 

  • Do they listen to opposing opinions and process them or do they dismiss those who think differently? 

  • Do they seem interested in HAVING the job or DOING the job? (Having the job is “Look at me, I’m important” whereas doing the job means night meetings, working weekends, phone calls at home, research, consulting the public, follow-up, lousy pay, defeated issues, and all the complaints you can handle.)

  • Do they have a reasoned and analytical way of discussing things or do they think they know it all and blather on about how they’re right and everyone else is wrong?

  • Do they know when to pursue an issue and when to back off?

  • Are they being supported by people YOU know and respect? 

  • Are they open and approachable or do they seem to have some hidden agenda? 

  • Is this someone you want as a leader of your community?

  • If they’re also going to sit at the upper tier (County), can they handle it?

 

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