Editorial: Civic elections need diversity

Candidates are coming forward for our consideration.

In some ways, the race is already on, leading up to the municipal election Nov. 15. On that date, Nanaimo residents will be entrusted to elect a mayor, city councillors and school trustees who will represent us for the next four years.

Some people have indicated their intentions; many have yet to go public. Candidates can’t formally declare until the end of the month, and they have another 10 days after that before the deadline to hand in nomination packages.

We hope, most of all, that there will be strong candidates, but we hope also that there will be a variety of candidates.

The news last week that Joy Leach had died made us reflect on the importance of diversity in local politics. It’s interesting that Leach was the only female mayor in Nanaimo’s history, though we expect it will only be a matter of time before we elect a second.

At the moment, two of Nanaimo’s nine city council members are women, two out of seven on Lantzville district council, three out of 17 on the Regional District of Nanaimo board and six out of nine on the Nanaimo school board.

Beyond gender, there can be a place at the council table for candidates of any age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, social standing or political leaning. Rather than categorize and divide us, these diversities can create a broader perspective. Compromise and co-operation are a part of democracy.

Of course we realize that counting councillors by gender – or any classification – is an oversimplification. Candidates will be judged on their merit, their character, their priorities and promises, their strength and smarts, their motivation, their intentions.

We hope that this fall, voters will have the chance to elect just the sort of representatives we’re looking for, both men and women.

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