Planning for Alberta’s municipal elections is underway and candidate nominations are now open.
Alberta’s next municipal general election will be held on Oct. 18, 2021. The candidate nomination period is now open, spanning Jan. 1 to Sept. 20, 2021.
Residents of Strathmore will elect a mayor and six councillors. In Wheatland County, seven councillors will be elected across seven divisions. These numbers are unchanged from the last election in 2017.
At least one local Wheatland County representative, Division 7 Councillor Ben Armstrong, will not be seeking re-election.
The Town of Strathmore is responsible for planning and running Strathmore’s municipal election, while following provincial guidelines, explained Geoff Person, the town’s communication manger.
“Our team is working on this now, and we’ll have some information to share in the coming weeks,” he said, in an email.
However, there is still an opportunity for local councils to pass bylaws affecting how the election is conducted, such as additional types of identification to verifying electors, designating multiple voting stations per subdivision, allowing voting stations to open prior to 10 a.m. or authorizing the printing of ballots in lots. All of these deadlines are included in the province’s 2021 General Election Calendar.
The province provides an instructional manual for prospective candidates, called A Candidate’s Guide: Running for Municipal Office in Alberta, available online. This document provides an overview of the relevant provincial legislation, necessary qualifications, seeking nomination, candidate expenses and campaigning.
In terms of qualifying, one of the most important stipulations is being a resident of the ward or electoral division for six months preceding the nomination day. Individuals are ineligible to run if their property taxes are more than $50 in arrears, if they are in default for any other debt to the municipality more than $500 or if they have been convicted under election laws within 10 years, among other restrictions.
Looking back at the 2017 election, some local candidates won on narrow margins.
In Strathmore, Mayor Pat Fule won the 2017 election with 2,779 votes, compared to opponent Earl Best, who received 450 votes. A total of 11 individuals ran for town council in Strathmore in 2017. The average number of votes the six elected councillors received was 1,700 votes. The elected councillor with the fewest votes had 21 votes more than the candidate with the most votes who was not elected.
In Wheatland County, 17 individuals ran for office across seven divisions in 2017. The average number of votes received across six elected councillors (Armstrong ran unopposed) was 194. The average margin of victory for these six councillors was 65 votes, ranging between 5 and 167 votes.
Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times