An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WE’RE INTO THE opening phase of civic election 2022, with two candidates already declared for mayor of Kamloops. This is the time when anyone thinking of running for office needs to begin making serious plans.
They need to begin forming a campaign strategy, including a platform, getting volunteers, setting up a budget and deciding when and how to announce that they’re in the race.
Before that, though, they have to think about the commitment. The mayor’s position in Kamloops is full time. Anyone who can’t take leave from their job or their business won’t be able to do the mayor’s job properly.
Being a councillor isn’t full-time but there’s another major question of commitment.
The term for mayors and councillors is four years. That’ a big piece of anyone’s life and, frankly, it’s too long. Four-year terms came into being as of the 2014 election on the recommendation of a joint task force between the provincial government and the Union of B.C. Municipalities. It was based on the belief that successful candidates need the first year or so to learn the complexities of the role and become effective at it.
As well, the longer the term, and therefore the fewer the elections, the cheaper it is both for the people we elect and for the taxpayers who foot the bills for elections. But there are several downsides to four-year terms.
Many people simply can’t commit to four years due to business, employment or personal considerations. Good candidates, including incumbents, sometimes decide not to run because of it. And if a mayor or councillor turns out to be a failure, the community has to put up with him or her for longer than it might want to.
Before four-year terms, there were three-year terms and, before that, two-year terms. Four years is too long, two is too short, and three is about right. We should go back to three.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.