October is civic election month. Nominations opened last Thursday. All you need do is have a qualifying address in the city, sign a form and ante up $100 or, for mayor, $200. Of course, it helps to have a few more dollars set aside for campaign expenses. As of Monday morning two hopefuls have signed up for council; none yet for mayor â by the time you read this, there may be more.
But, itâs far too early to judge how things will unfold. Incumbents with fairly proven constituencies can afford to wait until later in the spring before they commit. After all, council candidates only need about 4,000 votes to be assured of a seat and most incumbents have at least that many supporters.
Those without that experience or who have a particular axe they want to grind in public will probably opt in earlier, to gain some public prominence for their cause and to give their teams time to motivate supporters.
Recent news reports have been trying to gauge just which incumbents are running or not. It's a mugs game. Some are in; the rest remain officially âundecided,â but my sums say two or three will not be on the ballot in October. That means a few seats should be open.
The mayorâs race will be the most interesting, of course. Bob Kilger has said he will be in. The last time there was a large field of contenders, he out bid Phil Poirier for the chair. Too soon to say how many will line up this time. If there are some strong opponents with sufficient credentials to interest a good number of us, then it could be a very tight race. There are lots of rumours out there but until their cash is on the table, theyâre just rumours.
I, for one, would welcome some change. Surely our present group are not the only hope for our future, or even the best that is available. Theyâve become tired and predictable. Some have been around for several terms now and itâs time for some honourable retirements. We need some new blood that will more closely represent the working population of Cornwall. As it stands right now, most of those trolling for your votes are senior citizens.
According to the 2011 census 47% of voting age Cornwall is under 50 years of age and 37% is over 60, yet over 70% of our present council is in the latter group. Less than half of us voted in 2010; the majority who did were over 50, so the results we got back then were not entirely surprising. But democracy doesnât just mean rule by the majority; it means rule by the majority - of those who participate.
Although party politics donât play an official role in municipal office, there are some backstage groups that are quietly working to hopefully put a team of âlike-mindedâ people around the table. Iâd prefer councillors who are committed to their own ideals and who will work for our benefit, not the benefit of a group or âpartyâ that supported them.
I also think it behoves those backrooms to actively seek out younger people with a good head on their shoulders, who have demonstrated some leadership skills, either on the job or in volunteer roles. If a 20-something like Eric Duncan can lead Dundas, thereâs no reason why some of his peers canât be among Cornwallâs leadership. I believe itâs the only way to encourage a more participatory democracy for our city.
And thatâs the way I see it.