Every four years we are called upon to exercise our democratic right to elect a mayor and councillors who will lead and manage our municipalities. Fine. But, what happens in the four years between elections is really what shapes our democratic life. How the elected team carries out its mandate and priorities; how attentive it is to the needs of citizens once elected, how it manages public funds: these are what should guide our choices on November 5.
The election campaign is the time to question candidates, find out more about why they run and what they want to accomplish if elected.
The municipal election is a vote about the kind of milieu we want to live in. It’s about the type of development we are willing to support; it’s about the amount of taxes we are ready to pay; it is also about the trust we have in the men and women who promise to represent our interest once elected.
In the past four years, in Town of Brome Lake for instance, a strategic plan was put together to reflect the shared priorities and expectations of citizens. These priorities are centered on quality of life issues, culture, recreation, tourism, economic and demographic development, the environment and a taxation base that grows no more than inflation every year. We think these are still the main issues in this election. The “to do list” of this plan is well under way: the Quilliams path is now a reality and concrete steps have been taken to revitalize central Knowlton. To that list we would add, fixing Mill Pond, the improvement of police services in villages as well as in rural areas, the wider availability of High Speed Internet and better access to the lake for a majority of residents.
There will always be times when a council is out of step with public opinion. The recent slaughterhouse saga is a good case in point. What’s important is how our councils respond to new situations. When citizens got up and said no to the project the politicians chose to listen. The proximity of election day may also have played a role in the recent release by West Bolton of a new plan for Mt-Foster opening the way to protecting the mountain and meeting residents’ concerns.
The ability to deal not only with the promises they made but with unforeseen events as well, is the type of thing we expect from our councils over the next four years. It’s up to the voters to evaluate that capability and to cast their ballots accordingly. The decision of November 5 is a four-year commitment.