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Election 2017: Decision day is just weeks away

It might be hard to imagine, but election season is upon us.

On Sept. 18 communities across Alberta, including Jasper, will hold nomination day, the final day for candidates to decide whether or not they are going to run for municipal office.

Deciding to run for office is a big decision that should be weighed carefully before deciding whether or not you want to throw your hat into the ring.

For starters, it is important to figure out whether or not you have adequate time to devote to the position and to make sure the job will meet your expectations.

If you are elected you will be expected to serve a four-year term until October 2021. You will also be expected to attend regular council and committee-of-the-whole meetings every Tuesday of the month, except on the fifth Tuesday of the month if there is one.

To prepare for these meetings elected officials are also expected to spend an adequate amount of time reviewing the meetings’ agenda package, which often contains reports and correspondence to help inform their decisions.

From time to time there will also be additional council meetings for budget deliberations in November and December that are often held in the evenings.

Outside of council meetings, the mayor and individual councillors are each appointed to represent council on an average of three internal and external committees, boards or agencies. Meeting times vary, however you are expected to regularly attend these meetings and report back to council when necessary.

On top of this the mayor and councillors should also expect to attend conferences and training workshops throughout the year, such as the annual conference for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

Beyond the formal meetings and conferences elected officials often have to attend social events and give welcome speeches at local conferences, however the time commitments in this area are usually heavier on the mayor.

If you decide to run for office you may also find that it takes 10 times longer to go to the post office than it used to. Council members are public figures and usually find that they are never “off duty.” Residents will often take the opportunity to present their views or ask questions, whether in the produce aisle of the grocery store or in the stands at your child’s hockey game.

Of course if you are elected you will also be compensated for your time, however don’t expect a big pay out – none of these jobs are considered full-time.

If all of this still sounds enticing then you might want to consider running for municipal office. Nomination day is Sept. 18.

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