Somewhere within a list of 44 candidates, there’s a city council that can work in Nanaimo.
At one of the candidate launch events that I covered, while having my expectations exceeded, it struck me, even before knowing for sure who would ultimately put their names forward, that Nanaimo was going to have enough choice on the ballot to make for good leadership all the way around the council table. For me, there was a sense that this municipal election had crossed some kind of threshold, and when I marked my ballot, I would be able to feel comfortable about all my votes.
I hope that will be the experience of everyone who goes to the polls in Nanaimo next month.
This election campaign, unofficially underway all year long, got more interesting this past Friday afternoon as the nomination deadline passed. We now know that there will be four candidates for mayor and a whopping 40 candidates for councillor.
I like that it’s going to be a long ballot, mainly because it gives an educated electorate the most names from which to choose. At risk of oversimplifying, a greater number of candidates should mean a likelihood of a greater number of good candidates.
There are drawbacks to a crowded field. We have candidates from A to Z, literally, including two Smiths, and with so many candidates all speaking at the same time these next five weeks, it’s going to get a little bit confusing for citizens. It could also spread around the votes, thus shrinking the margins between candidates and adding unpredictability.
For a community newspaper that publishes twice a week and wishes to write about the District of Lantzville, Regional District of Nanaimo and school board elections, as well, a crowded field of candidates presents challenges as we try to be fair. Any article about a municipal issue with 44 separate quotations would fill an entire Tuesday edition and still require a ‘to be continued’ in the Thursday paper. So as in past elections, we’ll ask candidates to fill out a questionnaire that we’ll package as a special section. For months we’ve been interviewing candidates about their reasons for running, compiling the articles on our website, and we will continue to do so over the coming weeks. There are more than 30 interviews at www.nanaimobulletin.com/tag/election-2018 and I encourage you to have a look.
All-candidates’ meetings are some of my favourite news stories to cover, so I look forward to writing about the mayors’ debate Oct. 9, the councillors’ debate Oct. 15, and any others that are organized. That councillors’ debate, incidentally, is by application only, with the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Our Nanaimo voter engagement group selecting participants based on merit. While it probably isn’t the most fair way of organizing a debate, I do think it will provide much better value for voters than the alternative.
Nanaimo has been motivated to vote for quite some time now, and I hope that motivation lasts all the way up to and including voting day Oct. 20. We have ourselves a long, diverse list of candidates and we have the opportunity to elect councillors who not only provide good governance, but bring qualities that can inspire us to believe in or share their visions for our community.
I get why people get cynical about politics, but I think it’s misplaced here in Nanaimo in 2018. If a previous council didn’t meet our expectations, that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether the next council can exceed those expectations.