My perspective - Racing into fall


By: Kate Jackman-Atkinson

We’re only just into August and summer is still in full swing, as we try to get the most out of the short season.  But across the region, some people have already turned their attention to the fall. For those interested in government, this fall will be an exciting time.

Across the province, Manitobans will be heading to the polls to elect their municipal government representatives. Municipal election dates are set by the provincial government and this year, the election will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Municipal elections tend to attract low levels of voter turn out, yet it is the level of government which has the most significant impact on our daily lives.  Few of us are directly impacted by the foreign policy set by the federal government, but we are all touched by the maintenance of our roads, the accessibility of recreation facilities and garbage collection.  These are things that fall within the realm of municipal governments and play a significant role in our day-to-day happiness.

In many rural municipalities, seats are often filled by acclamation.  I hope that isn’t the case this time and perhaps the larger wards, a result of forced amalgamation, will lead to additional candidates stepping forward.

For those thinking of running, the registration period is now open. Few candidates have registered yet and most of the municipalities I have talked to have said no candidates have stepped forward.

Those interesting in running for either head of council (mayor or reeve) or as a councillor have until Sept. 16 to register with their municipality’s senior election official.

This fall’s election also presents a unique twist for some newly elected officials.  With amalgamations taking place in many municipalities, the council elected this fall won’t actually take office until Jan. 1, 2015, the date at which amalgamations come into effect. The current council in these municipalities will see their terms extended until Dec. 31, although they will only be able to spend money authorized in their 2014 financial plans and their decisions will be limited to housekeeping matters. They will not have the authority to enter into any new contacts or agreements that will be binding on the new, amalgamated municipality. This means we won’t see much action on the municipal government front for the last two months of the year.

While many within our coverage area will have to be content with a municipal election, those within the provincial consituency of Agassiz will have some additional excitement.  While the provincial election won’t take place until the fall of 2015, or possibly the spring of 2016, a nomination meeting for the Progressive Conservative party is likely to take place before the end of the year.  

Earlier this year, two-term MLA Stu Briese announced that he wouldn’t be seeking a third term.  The riding, which includes Neepawa, McCreary, Gladstone, Westbourne and McGregor has been a stronghold for the PC party. Briese won 70 per cent of the vote in the 2011 election and 59 per cent of the vote in the 2007 election. It’s very likely that the person to win the PC nomination will go on to become elected MLA for the area, making it an interesting campaign to watch.

So far, two candidates have officially announced their intention to seek the nomination.

As the summer winds down, most Manitobans have their thoughts still on summer sun and evenings at the lake, while others will give serious consideration to represent their neighbours and friends at the council table or at the provincial legislature.  As always, I hope we see many people step forward.  Seeking office is hard and requires someone to put themselves out there, a position in which many of us aren’t comfortable.  However, we need people with ideas and action to step forward to make our communities better places – places in which we want to live, work and play.