An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
ELECTION CAMPAIGNS can seem too long sometimes, but holding a by-election for a new Kamloops mayor and two councillors on Sept. 16 is a ridiculous idea, and here’s why.
Nothing meaningful is going to happen, politically speaking, during the months of July and August, when Kamloops goes to the beach. Everybody knows how hard it is to get a meeting of even a few people together during summer, because they’re all “too busy.”
So let’s just write off those two months in terms of voters taking any time whatsoever to learn about the candidates and the issues.
Traditionally, the city comes alive again in September. Summer festivities are over, people are back from vacation, and the kids go back to school. Political bodies and community groups get rolling again. Brains change from neutral into first gear and gradually speed up during the rest of the month until everything is back to normal.
It all starts after the Labour Day weekend. Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September, which this year is Sept. 4. Then the kids go back to school and mom and dad are busy that week getting them dressed and giving them breakfast and walking them to the bus.
By the second week, time to take a breath and settle back into some semblance of normalcy.
A by-election on Saturday, Sept. 16 would give voters about one week to figure out who’s who and what they stand for and whether they’re the kind of candidates they’d like to see running the city. A week. That’s no way to run a civic democracy.
Television networks never start their fall seasons until the last week of September. Why? Because they know nobody’s watching before then.
Ken Christian wants the by-election Sept. 16 because, he says, it’s important to get it done as soon as possible. Here’s what he told CHNL yesterday (Monday):
“I would think that mid-September would have been a better time. I think that obviously in the summer time, it’s not going to be conducive to a large voter turnout, but I think certainly after the Labour Day weekend and people are back at home and the kids are back in school I think that they would be able to organize and conduct an election in mid-September.”
Sure, a by-election could be held mid-month, but who wants it, other than Christian? It’s tough enough as it is getting the public interested in a by-election, without throwing it at them before they’re ready.
Christian is fixated on getting it done ASAP. Must have a full bench, as he puts it. Two weeks isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans as far as the business of council is concerned, but it means a lot to the people who have to vote.
Dr. Cynthia Ross Friedman, Christian’s opponent for mayor, thinks his idea is OK. “No problem there,” she told NL.
Yes, problem there. They should both think again. And when City council receives a report from administration today (June 27, 2017) recommending Sept. 30 as the date for a by-election, it should accept that recommendation because it makes sense.