In the last couple of weeks, people have begun to speculate that single issue candidates are going to come forward in this fall’s municipal elections.
Outgoing mayors Brent Devolin of Minden Hills and Carol Moffatt of Algonquin Highlands openly discussed the possibility at an April 29 County council meeting.
They aired their concerns during a discussion on the shoreline preservation bylaw. Devolin felt if the County does not adopt the bylaw, it will open the door to anti-bylaw candidates running a slate of mayors and deputy-mayors in the Oct. 24 polls. He predicted if that happens, similar to something he witnessed in Port Carling, it will be a mess.
Moffatt expressed similar concerns.
County warden Liz Danielsen said there will always be single-issue candidates.
In my six years in Haliburton County, I have not witnessed this. No doubt the shoreline preservation bylaw is polarizing. However, whether council adopts the bylaw before it ends its term or not, I believe it will be an election issue.
By that I mean, if the current council passes it, there is nothing stopping a new council from axing it. That’s politics.
While I appreciate the passion of those who have fought the bylaw, I caution them to reconsider a slate of anti-bylaw candidates, if that is in fact what is contemplated of planned.
The County and its lower-tier municipalities deal with a myriad of issues and would-be councillors have to have a general knowledge of a number of matters, not just strong opinions on one particular thing.
For example, the service delivery review and short-term rentals are hot issues at the County table. Then there is the day-to-day stuff of working with the OPP, emergency services including ambulances and firefighting, recreation, parks, cemeteries, landfills, sewer and water, a raft of social services, such as housing, and the list goes on and on.
I would hazard a guess that mayors are working full-time and most councillors part-time, at least 20 hours a week. I say that because I read council agendas and their sometimes hundreds of pages of reports for each and every council meeting. It’s one thing to run because you are disgruntled at something. It is a completely different matter to do the actual job and do it well.
The role of a councillor involves not seeing things as black and white. It is about relationship building and compromising to get a result that is as close to what you want as you can get.
For voters, the allure of a single-issue candidate may be strong. They may be willing to ignore a host of other issues to get their candidate across the line.
But I would argue that using your vote to push a single issue is irresponsible because it does not allow for compromise. It also means a number of other issues may be ignored.
I believe single-issue voting ends up being detrimental in the long run.
A broader consideration of a wide variety of political issues may allow for better-informed and more effective voting.
And that’s what we need in Haliburton Country right now, not divisive single-issue politics.