After October’s municipal election, the requirements to run could look very different.
Coun. Michael Oshry has proposed bumping up the entry fee for city councillors as well as the number of signatures needed.
Yet Coun. Andrew Knack looked back at his first foray into civic politics and said his career path to today might be different.
“Probably shouldn’t have run,” he now says about his 2007 campaign. “In terms of my lack of knowledge [and the fact that] I’d actually never set foot in this building when I first decided to run for city council. Yet I’m sure it was a combination of ego and silliness that I chose to put my name on the ballot but it due in part to the fact that when I looked at the requirements. “You needed just 25 signatures and $100. And I thought, why wouldn’t I do that?”
Oshry’s proposal would bump the deposit and the required signatures for the nomination papers, although there is some debate on council about what levels are fair to the process. Provincial law, which governs municipal elections, has it that the city is allowed to set deposit up to $1,000 along with as many as 100 signatures.
The vote was 11-2, with Knack and Coun. Mike Nickel voting against going forward with a study.
Many said having an easy standard to run, opens the door to people who mock the system.
“It caused I think citizens to be dismayed at public forums when you had ‘Buffalo Terminators’ running for mayor and stuff,” Coun. Scott McKeen said. “If we feel the process deserves esteem in our culture, should we not protect it in some ways too while finding some balance there.”
Coun. Dave Loken expressed frustration at candidate fields that are 12, 15, even 20-plus deep.
“Half of them sometimes are there just to mock the process, just to be jokers, to waste everybody’s time, and waste everybody’s energy and that I take seriously as a city councillor,” he said. “This is a serious business. You should be serious about this, you should be able to get way more than 25 signatures.”
Coun. Ed Gibbons said any candidate can go to a farmers’ market and gather 25 signatures. He said a serious campaign would gather way more.
“I used to carry them, long after I handed them in. I’d have 350 or 400 [signatures] because people buying in, to signing for your papers, is meaning that they’ve got an ownership of helping with some kind of democracy.”
This year’s election is October 16. The council voted in that day will look at the study. The next election after this year is in 2021.