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STAHN: Understanding what candidates really stand for

November 07, 2014 - 7:08 AM

It can be hard to watch a new candidate stand up to speak about their vision for our city and why they think they are the best person for the job.

In my experience, many have little background in public speaking and tend to flounder a bit in these situations, may not have a clear view on what the city role actually is and can come across as insecure or even worse, ignorant.

As a journalist this can really grate on me. As a voter it sometimes scares me.

But I don’t think the inability to speak to a crowd or immediately understand the ins and outs of politics should necessarily be a vote killer. Everyone has to start somewhere and even current councillors admit to not fully understanding the process when they first started out.

The problem is trying to differentiate between simple inexperience and ignorance as they try to articulate what they stand for and what they think you want to hear.

Observing how they act, how they interact and what they do in their normal, daily lives will likely give you a better sense of who they are and what they can do for our city. Try to figure out if they walk the walk or just talk the talk. And no, them telling you they walk the walk is not enough.

Helping to run the city is a huge responsibility, so you’d hope they would at least have stopped by a council meeting once or twice before throwing their name in the ring. You would hope they would at least understand the difference between municipal, provincial and federal politics and the role each plays in our democratic system.

If they’ve never shown an interest in politics before you might be right to question if they are interested now because of one specific issue and if that issue is enough to warrant a vote. Are the reasons more selfish than community-serving or is this someone who truly has a deep-seated desire to help our city be the best it can be?

It can be hard to wade through fact and fiction during campaign time, but before voting on Nov. 15—and you will vote—make sure you listen to what our candidates are really saying, don’t just listen to the words coming out of the mouths.

To contact a reporter, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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