OUR VIEW: Being a politician’s easy – until you become one

Elections are a great opportunity to explore ideas

Elections are a great opportunity to explore fresh ideas about the way we’re going to move forward over the next few years.

But as voters listen, they should keep three questions in mind: Do candidates truly understand the issues of the community? Do challengers have ideas to follow criticism? Are these ideas affordable What are the consequences of the change being promoted?

The first one seems obvious. Except that in every election – federal, provincial and municipal – there are candidates who run on a single issue, although the jobs of elected officials involve myriad tasks and problems.

So here’s a suggestion for candidates: Don’t just tell us what you’re against. Tell us what you are also for, and how you’re going to achieve it.

Tell us what it’s going to cost and how it will be paid for.

In other words, do your homework.

Do candidates also understand the limits of the office they’re seeking? Municipal governments and school boards are creatures of provincial legislation. Their powers are clearly defined.

And although those powers continue to evolve, they remain limited.

Vision and ideals are important, but they need to be grounded in reality.

Which brings us to the third question: Are they practical? Candidates could promise to cut our tax burden in half, hire twice the number of police officers and firefighters, or cut the budgets of other departments.

But they need to demonstrate the implications of these suggestions. A freeze on spending may mean reduced services (or the need for alternative sources of revenue) because of factors like inflation.

Being a politician may appear easy – until you become one.

– Black Press