Of increasing importance

Having attended many candidate forums over the years, it’s interesting to note how people perform and how that performance is perceived. Being able to speak in pubic is generally considered a positive thing for councillors and mayors. Unfortunately it may, or may not, be a reflection of their sincerity or their abilities.
Note that sincerity is listed first, ahead of abilities. It’s tough to evaluate sincerity until you get to know a person. It becomes somewhat easier after a candidate has actually been in office for a while. Most candidates say they are sincere but it is rarely proved until some time in office has been experienced. That’s why it’s important to listen to a candidate, talk to them in person if possible and find out as much about them as you can. Most candidates are only well known by a relatively small group of friends and family until they get into public office.
When asked what’s the most important attributes of a candidate, the answer, as it was at the Gladstone candidate forum on Monday night, is usually honesty and integrity. Gladstone council candidates, Dave Thiessen and Dawn Cobrough at Gladstone are to be praised for stating the obvious and having the courage to do so in a pubic forum. We expect honesty and integrity from all our public officials. Fortunately, we get it most of the time, but it’s important not to become lax in our standards. It’s important to re-state these desirables attributes again and again as a reminder to candidates and ourselves. 
At the Neepawa forum it was good to hear all the candidates talk about the need for housing and how the influx of immigrants is a very good thing for Neepawa and in fact for the whole area. One needs to be a bit careful though. On the housing issue there has been a lot more talk than action. Lack of capital, lack of ability and a lack of real leadership has left Neepawa way back in the dust on housing issues. To those who have actually stepped up and have built housing, we must offer thanks and respect. To those who have dropped the ball, we can offer a gentle reprimand. 
Such a reprimand is in order for the Neepawa council but especially for Mayor Durston. Always the cautious leader, Durston should have taken a much stronger stand with the minister of Health Teresa Oswald when she delayed the Eastview Lodge re-development. Instead of taking a wait-and-see attitude, the mayor should have gone into full attack mode on this issue. The minister made a huge mistake in delaying the EVL project. Potential investment evaporated, the building sat longer, deteriorated more. It was the unfortunate and thankless task for the mayor to lead the charge on this issue and if it happened, it wasn’t made known to the public. Ironically, the health minister’s misguided delay is going to potentially cost her department hundreds of thousands of dollars if EVL has to be demolished
On the value of immigration, let’s just say that all the Neepawa forum candidates ranged from being thankful to having glowing praise for Neepawa’s good fortune in having a large and growing immigrant community. We need to make sure that in public and private conversation that this attitude stays consistent. Having heard the odd derogatory comment, yes even from councillors, puts a person on alert. Racist comments cannot be tolerated, whether they come from long-time Canadians or from newcomers. 
Most candidates hold themselves to very high standards. That’s a good thing. Elections, candidate forums, public discussions help to keep us all at a high standard. Voting is hugely important, so next Wednesday is the big day. Get out and vote, make your voice and vote count. Every election is the most important one. That’s not a cliche. This municipal election is the most important one ever held. As our communities grow and develop, we have bigger and more important issues to solve every year. That’s just the way it is, each election surpasses the previous one in importance because of the ascending importance of the issues we face. If it isn’t so, then we simply aren’t progressing.

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