Wanted: Candidates for municipal elections

·2 min read

The association representing New Brunswick's francophone municipalities has launched a campaign to encourage more residents to think about running in this spring’s municipal elections.

The positions available include mayors, councillors, education councillors and regional health authority representatives.

According to Elections New Brunswick, in the 2016 election, 17 municipalities had councils acclaimed, meaning there were not enough interested candidates for a race. Several more had either uncontested races for mayor, or a slate of candidates equal to the number of council seats, leading to councillors being acclaimed.

In a few cases, such as in Drummond and Clair, there were more vacancies than there were candidates by the election’s conclusion.

The campaign, which L’Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau Brunswick is calling #PENSESY, which means “Think about it” in English, will be a virtual campaign due to pandemic restrictions, said Atholville Mayor Michel Soucy, the association's board president. The campaign is a bit of a reboot of one which began last year before the Spring 2020 municipal election was postponed by the pandemic.

It will include elements such as a podcast, and sharing of information on social media and on the association’s website that aims to demystify the roles up for grabs and explain what’s involved in running, Soucy said.

“Citizens need a choice,” he said.

This campaign aims to help democracy thrive, he said.

The association wants to bring more people to the table and in particular, encourage more women and young people to run for office, Soucy said, noting a diversity of voices will ensure “municipal councils will reflect what we need for years to come."

“Any time you have a municipal council with a diversified group, it adds to your discussion,” said Shediac Mayor Roger Caissie.

Shediac currently has gender parity on its council, he said.

The association said barriers to running include people not knowing what the job entails.

“Some people think you have to be super human to do it," Caissie said, "but I’m no different than anybody else.”

Caissie said he encourages anybody who has their community's best interests at heart to go for it.

“It’s not rocket science,” said Caissie, adding municipal staff are there to help guide councillors as they learn the ropes.

The first date anyone can file nomination papers is March 22, but candidates may announce at any time, said Elections New Brunswick’s Paul Harpelle. Nominations for candidates in the municipal elections close on April 9.

The association will collaborate with Elections New Brunswick on elements of the #PENSESY campaign.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal