Unfortunate as the circumstances are that prompted this week’s byelection in the City of White Rock – the passing of fondly remembered longtime councillor Mary-Wade Anderson left the seat vacant – it nonetheless offers White Rock an opportunity that other cities are missing.
By being asked to choose among nine candidates for the one empty seat on council, White Rock voters have an opportunity – unlike others this fall – to revisit the whole notion of why we elect individuals to represent us.
It’s a time to reflect, not just on what the new candidates will bring to council, but also to evaluate how well-served we have been by those currently holding seats.
Unlike those in neighbouring communities, who must wait another two years to register their approval or disapproval, White Rock residents can act now, asking themselves how well they have been served since the 2011 election by the politicians already in office.
Perhaps this will inspire others in other communities to re-evaluate their elects. It’s a fair bet that while many individual council representatives around B.C. have performed beyond expectations, others have barely performed at all.
Some likely have had little to say and few ideas to advance, and have made a slim contribution to debate of community issues, other than showing up and voting for or against rezonings and policy initiatives.
Others may seem to be following an agenda that is only tangentially related to the wants and needs of the electorate, while others may be more taken with the sound of their own voices than making germane contributions to meetings.
By focusing on the capabilities of individuals, this time around, White Rock voters have a chance to re-examine the process of municipal politics.
Does voting for blocks or slates – as we are often called on to do in civic elections – really serve the best interests of the voters?
Or does it encourage and protect docile politicians who fail to contribute, other than casting votes along to support the policies of their more dynamic colleagues?
With byelection day looming for White Rock Nov. 3, voters in all cities can be reminded of the value of their past choices.