Opinion

COLUMN: A new ‘face’ to this civic election campaign

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Slate politics at the civic level, a first for Abbotsford, has inevitably arrived in our fair city.

And like other municipal parties in cities across the Lower Mainland, it will inevitably fragment. The “party” in Mission, for instance, didn’t last a single term before infighting, differences of opinion and less than compatible personal philosophies caused it to not only fragment, but implode.

Diane Watts’ Surrey First party, which ousted the Surrey Electors’ Team, lasted through two elections but has come apart within the last few months as members jockey to replace Watts in the mayor’s chair. Vancouver, of course, saw COPE superseded by Vision, and the NPA shattered by infighting over the past few years.

The benefits, if there truly are any, are that financial donors are able to receive tax receipts from their contributions and voters are presented with a party platform that often has a clear and well-articulated direction.

Unfortunately, as happened in Mission, the “team members” often disagree on the implementation of their original platform once they are elected.

I believe independence is the best way to seek office. Candidates should be elected on their merits and abilities, not be beholden to anyone other than the elector, and particularly not be indebted to the position of those holding power in the backrooms of party politics.

I agree, as I am sure most other reasonable people would, with much of what AbbotsfordFirst claims is its platform: a desired location for business and families; model of good government; developing a vibrant economy; respect for citizens and working together for positive change.

The reason virtually everyone supports this is because it is what we, and countless others before us, have always desired in our elected officials and in the operation of our community.

For the most part we have achieved this because it’s hard to believe anyone seeking office makes the attempt with nefarious thoughts or plans in mind.

Often, however, the voter has flummoxed me, re-electing candidates who clearly have not performed as hoped or who have long passed their best before date.

However, this is the nature of the game and, regrettably, the result of voter apathy.

Will slate politics change this? Doubtful. Will running on a slate create better politicians? Doubtful. Will, for the first time, Abbotsford voters block vote and elect a slate? Again doubtful.

I believe an informed voter will choose the candidates they believe will best serve them, regardless of electoral affiliation.

On the other hand, slate politics will bundle campaign costs, allowing its candidates a more cost-effective means to get their message to the people.

And in an era when municipal political campaigning is becoming very high cost (the current mayoral race in Abbotsford will prove this to be true), getting the biggest promotional bang for your buck is as important as the message is convincing.

If nothing else, perhaps this election campaign – with a combination of contentious mayoral race and slate of councillor candidates – will encourage more people to vote for Abbotsford’s future.

markrushton@abbynews.com

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