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Letter: Consider New Westminster council candidates individually before voting

Look beyond slates when making up your mind about casting your ballot in the coming municipal election.
Just because a candidate has received the go-ahead from a select group of individuals does not mean that he or she is the best suited for the job. | File photo


It's been interesting to sit and watch all the manoeuvring going on when it comes to candidates for the upcoming Municipal elections in New Westminster.

So far, we have two "slates" apparently running. But being a political watcher and active at times, I thought I would point out a few things to people in general. When you vote municipally, you are not forced to vote one slate or the other, despite the messaging put out there by the respective slates. New West Progressives and Community First (formerly known as Forward New West, formerly known as Together New West, formerly known as Team Cote, formerly known as the "labour endorsed slate") will both tell you that their ideas and their candidates are better than the other side.

As I said, I am politically active and follow all levels of politics, federal, provincial and civic. I'm not shy about my leanings or who I support or back. Most people would probably put me down as a "Community First" supporter or member. They would be mistaken. So then I must be a New West Progressive supporter or member. Mistaken yet again. The thing about slates of candidates is that, as voters, we are not beholden to vote all or none in a civic election. You can vote for up to six councillors, and up to seven trustees for school board. You don't have to vote for all six or seven. Nor do you have to vote for the entire slate.

This civic election, as others in the past, I'm picking individuals to vote for, not slates. Though Community First might align with some of my political leanings, not all of their executive's selections for candidates meet my standard. And though New West Progressives have a certain lean to them politically, some of their candidates I happen to like.  And then there's the current mayor's race. I'd refer to it as a "turtle derby" right now. Neither of the current two candidates make me say "wow." Matter of fact, this race calls for a third and possible fourth option for Mayor. One not affiliated with either New West Progressives or Community First.

I always thought that Mayor Wayne Wright handled the job effectively, as he was not affiliated with anyone. He and the city councils he worked with seemed to work together effectively. I think that independence of councillors has been something that has been missing for a long time in New Westminster and we are not better off for it. There is something to be said for diversity of political views and debate of issues as they come up, beyond a collective nod.

The point of my letter is this. Just because someone has received the go-ahead from a select group of individuals, does not mean that they are the best suited for the job. Take the time between now and the next election to dig down on these candidates. Ask them what they think or what they stand for (individually), look at their backgrounds, and do the work and research and make informed choices at the ballot box. Don't just follow whatever you are being told to when you get the "support the Community First slate" or "Support New West Progressive slate" phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook and social media posts.
Someone who is qualified for the job of councillor, mayor or trustee will not at all have any problem standing on their own two feet and explaining what they stand for and why. And if they do, then clearly, they are not suited for a job in a transparent public leadership position, whether it be Mayor, Council or School Board Trustee. Push beyond the talking points and message boxes both sides are sure to feed their candidates. Also look at the independent candidates who are bound to come forward as they do every civic election. They as well offer a diverse opinion and perspective. They may not have the pooled resources and funds behind them that the slate candidates do, but they also offer something to the political discussion and the way our community is administered and managed.

And most importantly … VOTE!!!!!! Not only that, vote for who YOU want, who best represents what you believe in (whatever that maybe) not what 2 select executive boards in the background with their views and positions are telling you to vote for.  Dave Lundy