Four years ago, the city council race was a hot one. There were a total of four candidates for mayor and a whopping 24 candidates for city council. There was a near-complete replacement of council itself - with Randy Goulden being the only person to retain her council seat - and Mayor Bob Maloney held onto the chair with a mere 33 votes. It was one hotly contested race.
This time around we have the ingredients for another pretty intense campaign, though COVID-19 could dampen the enthusiasm of many potential candidates. With Maloney stepping down, there will be a new mayor. And, there will definitely be at least one new face on council, as councillor Aaron Kienle is taking a run at the mayor’s chair. Even if you’re completely satisfied with the work that the current council is doing, there’s incentive to get in there, because someone has to be the new person, and if you’re someone who thinks they can make a difference in the city that’s a tempting prospect.
Personally, I think it’s an opportunity to have a more diverse ballot, not because there’s anything wrong with council, but because I think the work council does is important and more people in the city need to be engaged with it. Municipal politics are important, anyone who has driven down a city street or turned on their tap needs to know this, and everyone who lives in Yorkton should care about what happens here. The greater variety of candidates, the more chances to engage people on what is happening in the city.
Last time around, in spite of the huge list of candidates, there were a mere three women on the ballot - Goulden being the only one elected. This isn’t a slight against the 21 men who did run, but more an encouragement to the many different women in Yorkton who should consider a council run. There are a wide variety of women who are crucial to Yorkton’s success, and it would be great to have the chance to vote for some of them.
I’d also encourage any First Nations people in the community to take a run at council. Yorkton is on Treaty 4 land, and the Yorkton Tribal Council is a huge and incredibly important part of the city’s success.
It would be also nice to see new Canadians take a run at a council seat. There’s a growing community in Yorkton, and as they become citizens they can start to get more politically involved. They are an integral part of the community, and it would be nice to see them seriously involved in the local community.
This isn’t saying that people should vote for someone for any reason beyond what they would bring to council chambers - and it’s not meant as a slight against anyone currently sitting on council itself. But with an open seat, there’s now a clear opportunity to get at least one new voice on council, so there’s plenty of opportunity for someone to step up and let their voice be heard.
But that’s something someone must choose to do, and I think everyone who ran last time - along with everyone who will run this time - genuinely believed they had a perspective the city needed and a voice that the city could benefit from, and I wouldn’t have discouraged any of them from their run. The intent of this column is not to say someone shouldn’t run, but instead to encourage more people to realize they also have a perspective the city needs, and a voice the city could benefit from.
After all, we can only vote for someone on the ballot, so if you don’t see yourself represented by city council right now, it’s time to step up and put your name forward.