We’ve all got tough choices to make on Nov. 15. Here is a checklist I follow to help me make mine, in order of priority.
Character: first and foremost, I ask myself “do I trust this person?” Are they open to and respectful of any and all ideas and points of view? Will they put the needs of the greater community ahead of their own interests and the interests of their friends? Do they have the fortitude to make the tough decisions? I’m about to give them the keys to my community. Will that responsibility get the respect it deserves?
Love for community: fly-by-nighters and people looking to boost their own egos or forward their own agendas and careers need not apply. I want people whose roots go deep, who love this place, and whose motivations are preserving what they love, and improving what needs to be improved in order to make this a better place for the next generation.
Competence: if they pass A and B, I look at the skill package: what kind of knowledge and experience do they have dealing with local issues? With local government operations and regulations? Can they lead? Do they relate well with others? Have they demonstrated an ability to get things done? Am I comfortable they will be able to match wits with slick, high-powered developers, lobbyists and bureaucrats?
Policies: I am uncomfortable with fixed ideologies; for communities they are disruptive and divisive. I don’t dismiss or embrace candidates based on their affiliations, but I avoid zealots. But ideas? Ideas are wonderful things. I want independent thinkers who don’t just want to make things better, they actually have creative ways to make that happen.
The team: finally, my community isn’t made up of just one kind of person and my council shouldn’t be either. Conflicting viewpoints aren’t things to be avoided, they are the crucible in which good policy is formed. I want my team to have a variety of backgrounds, strengths, priorities and approaches. And I want it to be able to work together.
This works for me. It might not work for you. But I encourage you to develop a checklist that does.
And on Nov. 15, to use it.
—John McKinley, editor of the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial