Jack Brezina: All quiet on the Western Front
|By Jack Brezina - Contributing Writer | March 22, 2018|
Four years ago, the Minden Hills municipal political scene was awash in activity. It was perhaps one of the most contentious races in the county. Many candidates had filed their nomination papers early and they started to
stake out positions on various issues. Active campaigning, making speeches and putting out signs would have to wait until later in the year, but candidates could raise money for their campaigns and could be out on the
street talking with the voters.
During the election cycle, I managed a popular website that posed a question every two weeks to registered candidates, giving those who were out early a chance to raise their profiles, deal with issues of the day and give the public a chance to start to determine where the hopefuls stood on a variety of issues.
Contrast that with the eerie stillness that surrounds us at the moment. It is so quiet that some people may not even be aware this is a municipal election year. Of course, the distractions of the daily political barrage from south of the border and the pending provincial election (opening with the convolutions of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and its never-ending drama of the leadership race and the surprise Liberal proroguement and throne speech) would likely have drowned out any municipal politician looking for attention.
The relative quiet on the local scene is also a reflection of changes in the schedule. The province, which manages the intricacies of municipal politics in Ontario, has moved the date for filing of nomination
papers back from the first of the year to May 1 with the closing date being July 27. Those interested in running also likely appreciate the reprieve. Ten months is a long time to maintain campaign momentum and a longer campaign period wore the candidates as well as the electorate down. It seemed we were caught in the never-ending election cycle similar to the one that grips the United States, only played out with much less hoopla.
That said, this is a municipal election year and on October 22 we’ll have an opportunity to select mayors and councilors for the four municipalities in Haliburton County. In addition to overseeing their individual municipalities, you know, managing the roads, planning, health and safety of their citizens, the mayors and their deputies will also serve as councilors at the county council table, where among other
responsibilities they will be managing roads, planning, health and safety of the county’s citizens. One of them will also be selected (actually elected’ by the eight councilors) as the warden with a deputy also named.
This appears to be an appropriate time to ask: do we need five elected bodies to oversee what in many cases are similar responsibilities? At the moment, the taxpayers of Haliburton County are paying for 24 elected officials. While I don’t think saving money in reducing that number is the least of the reasons this question needs to be considered, I can’t help but wonder: could all municipal responsibilities across the county be handled by a single elected body and municipal administration?
I am not the first to ask the question. In fact, it has been broached for decades and, while some in the political sphere have toyed with the idea, no one, as they say, has grabbed the ball and run with it. Perhaps this is the year we’ll see someone make the concept part of their platform and during the next four year term, attempt
to consolidate the county’s municipal administration into a single tier
Jack Brezina is a contributing writer for The Highlander.