Since I've been giving a disproportionate amount of thought to the question of who to vote for in the upcoming New Westminster elections, I decided that today would be a good day to depart from my social media watch and instead ponder the question of who will be getting my vote on Nov. 15.
In my mind, there are very few decisions I can make that are more important, and that will have more impact on my day-to-day life, than the names I mark my "x" beside.
For candidates who may be wondering, I came up with this guide to how to win my vote.
First, some background about who I am and where I'm coming from. I'm 44 years old, I'm married with a small daughter, I own a home in the east end, and I've lived in New Westminster for 16 years.
I tend to lean left, with a sometimes contradictory libertarian streak that says government should just plain butt out of certain issues.
I believe in public support for the arts, both in schools and in the community, because the arts are fundamental to our experience as human beings and to our existence as a society.
I believe that my tax dollars should be spent on the essentials - not just infrastructure and utilities, but parks, playgrounds, sports fields, theatres, art galleries, greenways, cycling paths, because all of those things are an integral part of the fabric of society.
I believe in development. Development that is planned properly and executed sustainably is crucial to our future as a city.
I believe in building a greener world. I believe municipalities have a key role to play in the future of the planet, from helping residents to reduce waste to providing options that encourage us to leave our cars at home.
I believe that civic governments and school boards have key roles to play in the area broadly known as "social services" - in combating hunger, poverty, domestic violence, addiction, homelessness, isolation and exclusion of all kinds.
I believe in other things, too, like Himalayan pink salt caramels from Purdy's, and Jian Ghomeshi, and my daughter's giggle, and singing just for the heck of it (not necessarily in that order).
But you know what? I don't want a council that thinks exactly like me (although I will absolutely give serious consideration to any candidate that can sing an entire Moxy Früvous song).
Tempting as it is to consider what a utopia we could create if only everyone was just like me, the reality is that I want a council and a school board that represent a variety of lifestyles and philosophies.
I want a bleeding heart, someone who operates from a place of compassion and empathy for the downtrodden, who exists to create a better and more equal world for all.
I want a dreamer, a visionary who's willing to say, "Hey, here's a crazy idea, let's __________" - and then fills in the blank with a plan so insanely ambitious that a lesser mortal would never have dared to give it voice.
I want someone hard-headed and practical - the voice of reason who can look across the table at the bleeding heart and the dreamer and say, "That's great, guys, but let's get real here. How are we going to make this work for the taxpayers?"
I want someone who represents those who are under-represented - whose background and life experience give them a genuine understanding of what it's like to NOT be part of the white, straight, middle-aged, middle-class male experience.
I want a troublemaker. The one who's willing to stir the pot, to poke the hornet's nest, to play devil's advocate and prevent their counterparts from becoming settled and complacent.
I want a peacemaker. The one who listens without judgement, who hears from all sides before making a decision, who finds the middle ground when the debate is becoming polarized, who understands the value of cooperation and compromise.
You may be one of those things. You may be a few of those things. You may even be none of those things, and I might still vote for you.
Because the real must-haves are just these:
I want a candidate with integrity. I want one who tells the truth, for better or for worse. I'd rather you disappoint me honestly than mislead me with what you think I want to hear.
I want one who accepts their own fallibility. You are human. You will make mistakes. Just know how to apologize, to clean up the mess you made when you can, and learn from that mistake so you can go on to make a new one the next time.
And, above all, I want someone who cares. Whether you're relatively new to New Westminster or whether your family roots go back generations, I want to know that this community matters to you. That you're involved in it, that you're working to make it better, that want to do your best for it and for all its residents - whether they voted for you or not.
So now you know how to get my vote. That's one down.
Just think how many thousands more you have left.
Good luck with that.
And may the best candidates win.