Clegg’s Corner – The joy of serving

Chris Clegg,
Editor, South Peace News
A comment at a recent High Prairie town council meeting prompted me to do a little research. The results are fascinating.

The comment made alluded to needing “new blood” serving on boards. That is, once you have served so many years, it’s time to step aside. Pick your number, three years, six years, nine years…

Many politicians and members of the public feel this way. Many are tired of “career politicians” you can’t get rid of. Funny thing is, these same politicians get re-elected by the same people who complain. Go figure!

It should be noted not all politicians and not all members of the public share this view.

The numbers in the chart to the right are very, very interesting. It shows many of our local politicians seek re-election in general municipal elections. Here are the facts, keeping in mind that all stats are since 1989:
* 72.88 per cent of incumbent Town of High Prairie councillors have sought re-election.
* 84.27 per cent of Big Lakes County councillors have sought re-election.
* A trend is rising related to town incumbents. From 1989-2001, 20 of 33 sought re-election, or 60.61 per cent; from 2004-2013, 23 of 26 incumbents sought re-election, or 88.46 per cent. Why such a steep rise? More on that later.
* In the county, the numbers are similar. From 1989-2001, 41 of 53 sought re-election, or 77.36 per cent; from 2004-2013, 34 of 36 incumbents sought re-election, or 94.44 per cent.


The question arises: why do so many people seek re-election? Here are some reasons:
* unfinished projects they want to see completed.
* the desire to continue to serve.
* they still have something to offer.
* they have such a different view than their opposing candidate, it prompted them to run.

You can scour the Website for other reasons, some not too flattering:
* they feel they can win and it’s good for their ego.
* they have previously been slighted by their previous government, and a revenge factor arises.
* they love the public spotlight.

Then there is one that is no so flattering.

“Many times this is about the perceived quality of life improvements associated with being an elected official. They want [the money]. The title sounds nice to them and they think people will respect them more. These people tend to not care about the issues and only about making themselves look good. The most extreme examples are individuals whose egos are so large that they truly believe that they know better than everyone else and want to impose their will on others.”

As mean-spirited as it sounds, it is true for some, especially the farther you get away from the municipal level.

With all these reasons, why do so many local people seek re-election? That is the million dollar question. Why is the trend rising toward more and more incumbents seeking re-election?

Actually, this is not as complicated as it seems. Since the period 1989-2001, only one thing has changed in the way and county and town do their business. It is the money. Councillors are paid far more today than they were in 2001. More money has translated directly into a higher number of incumbents seeking re-election.

Other factors have not changed. There is the same hassle, the same grief. This has clearly not been a factor when councillors decide to seek re-election.

The numbers so strongly suggest money is the reason, we, the public, need to ask, “Are we paying these councillors too much?”

Share this post