How do we get the right people to run for office?
Serving as an elected official is not easy. Often, there is a steep learning curve to understand the past and current objectives of the government, not to mention all of the legislation, policy and bylaws that shape the way decisions ought to be made.
However, we need to back up and deal with the first challenge of becoming an elected official, the nomination process. There might be fear of the nomination process and the fear of getting the votes, or vice versa; not getting the votes. If you are not comfortable with conflict, you might be tempted to hide during the months preceding the election rather than stand front and center asking your community to vote for you on election day.
Fear is only one of many reasons why passionate, honest and collaborative people may choose to never run for office.
You could consider channelling that fear into motivation. It is an excellent exercise to understand and become passionate about why you want to run for local government office. Grab a piece of paper and a pen (I suggest a pen, not pencil, so you do not back out on your intuitions) and ask yourself the following questions:
Am I happy with the services we receive in our community?
Where would I spend the $1M grant in my community if I could decide where to spend it? What would my neighbours hope we spend it on?
How do we prepare our community for the next generation?
What productive feedback do you have for the current leaders of your community?
Ideally, there are many more questions to ask yourself. However, these are a few I would recommend, helping you consider your why…… Why…you want to be involved in the decision-making for your local community? Or how can you contribute your experience and knowledge when addressing issues and lead change in your community.
Once you understand your 'why,' now 'who'? Who do you know in your neighbourhood, district or division? Who in that area has a strong opinion? Ideally, there would be more than one neighbour with a strong view, and you should speak with as many as you can. Take time to understand what your communities' expectations of the Council are.
Some conflicting factors you might learn from your neighbours may increase your motivation or hesitation to run for local office. So now is an excellent time to ask yourself who should run for office? What will happen if I don't run for office?
Know that every term of Council leaves an imprint on the shape and feel of your community. Just think about the rewarding opportunities there will be to look back and know you were a part of a new hockey rink or any initiative for that matter that your children and their children will get to enjoy for many years to come. We cannot stop leaving these imprints; even standing in silence, not engaging, or ignoring what takes place in your local government forms part of the community's imprint.