By Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Mayor Margaret Plumtree says she is “contemplating” running again for council this upcoming election.
Noting that it is a four-year commitment and that by-elections are costly, Vauxhall has faced problems in the past with getting people to run for office, with a lack of candidates running during the 2010 municipal election nearly prompting some little-known contingencies under the Local Authorities Election Act and the Municipal Government Act to come into force. At the last minute, enough people were nominated to run, but only after the situation made headlines across the province.
Although she hopes that doesn’t happen again, a few others on council are planning on running again.
“That will help with those numbers,” said Plumtree. “Also, with he new changes to the MGA, there’s going to be more supports for council, for training, so that might assure people as well, to know that instead of walking in like we all did, and here, all of a sudden, you’re running a corporation without having any formal training on how to do that. So I’m hoping, with those changes to the MGA, allowing for more mandatory training of council, it will make people more comfortable about putting their name forth.”
This council is composed with fairly new members, with the longest serving member being Coun. Christie Sorenson — who had gained a position on the previous council through after a 2012 byelection — and council-veteran Russell Norris stepping down with coun. Kim Cawley filling his spot in a 2014 byelection. All other members of the current council voted in during the 2013 municipal election.
That, along with an administration turnover in the past few years has put a lot of fresh faces to the test.
Although she would have four years of mayorship under her belt, Plumtree would like to see who else is interested in the position of mayor on council. As council is the body that votes in the mayor and deputy-mayor, she doesn’t have to make up her mind just yet.
“I think it’ll kind of come to who’s interested in running for mayor, and then if now one steps up, sure, I’ll put my name in. But there is also the opportunity for someone else, right. If someone else wants to run as mayor, then that”s a good thing. It’ll be interesting to see which direction it’ll go in.”
One common misconception that might deter people from running is the time factor.
With council twice a month and subsequent prep work, along with committee work — whose meeting can range from monthly to yearly meeting, although most meet about every six weeks — most councillors can expect a time commitment of 12-15 hours a month for council.
“It depends what committees you’re on; that’s a real big factor. And then, the mayor, of course, puts more hours in just because of all of the administrative side that you have to do,” said Plumtree.
“As mayor, then you have a lot more. You have to go to the mayor’s caucuses — which are held twice a year — and then, like I said, you’re in the office doing more things and organizing, and then there is the newsletter and planning for strategic plans.”
According to the Municipal Affairs website next municipal election will take place on Oct. 16, 2017, with a nomination deadline of Sept. 18, 2017. Vauxhall resident who are interested in running should keep an eye on the Town of Vauxhall’s website, as town administration will be publishing common truths and myths about serving on council.
“After all, in the end it’s all about making your community better.”