Caveat emptor (Buyer beware)

Voters are like consumers. They select a particular candidate or product, while leaving other brands on the shelf.

We’ve covered elections in Lillooet for more than 20 years and have learned there are certain types of candidates whose product labels require careful inspection.

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Beware single-issue candidates. They ride into office on a wave of emotion. But what happens if that emotion dissipates or the issue is quickly resolved? Do they go through the motions? Lose interest and miss meetings? Ot quit?

Beware the candidate who runs for public office because he/she actually wants to be an administrator. Newly elected officials will be told repeatedly at their UBCM orientation and other workshops that there are significant differences between being governors and administrators. Elected officials who cross the sharply drawn line between those two roles can force out good employees and create dysfunction and confusion.

Beware the candidate who makes promises he/she may never be able to keep. These candidates may promise funding for pet projects, approvals for development permits and re-zoning, etc., while ignoring rules already in place for dealing with these issues. The reality is that each candidate is only one person working within a group whose opinions and approaches can be diverse and conflicting. We recall an exasperated new mayor, three months into his term, who complained about council members. “They won’t do what I tell them,” he told us. “They don’t have to,” we replied. “Their votes count just as much as yours does.”

Anyone wishing to avoid diversity and conflicting opinions could opt for the slate approach – official or unofficial. In our memory, an official slate has never been elected in Lillooet and we can’t point with certainty to a single, successful unofficial slate. Slates will definitely act efficiently to follow their agenda. In our view, the risk occurs when like-minded members of slates reinforce what may be each other’s rigid and insular views, to the exclusion of other views, approaches and possibilities.

Shop wisely, Lillooet.

 W.F.

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