COLUMN: It's time for a serious look at silly season

COLUMN: It’s time for a serious look at silly season

It's too easy to give politicians a pass in back-to-back elections, writes Lance Peverley

Let the games begi—

Hmmph, provincial election in 2013, civic election in 2014, federal election in 2015, provincial election a year and a half later, federal byelection last December… it seems fruitless to announce the beginning of the expected long stretch of political gamesmanship for this fall’s civic election.

The games have been ongoing for eons, at one level or another.

In fact, the last lengthy dry spell without South Surrey-White Rock voters being called to the polls was 2012.

Back then, Russ Hiebert was one year into his fourth and final term as the area’s Conservative federal MP; Gordon Hogg (who bears a more-than-passing resemblance to current Liberal MP Gordie Hogg) was one year from being re-elected to his fourth of five terms as provincial BC Liberal MLA; Catherine Ferguson was two-thirds into her maiden (and only) term as White Rock’s mayor; and Dianne Watts (whose decision to leave her post as Conservative MP for a failed leadership run for the provincial BC Liberals precipitated December’s federal byelection and riding party switchup) was one year into her third and (as of yet) final term as Surrey’s Surrey First mayor.

Sigh. You follow this?

The point is, while silly season for seated and would-be politicians is about to start, we can only hope that our fellow voters show the tenacity needed to focus on the issues and select suitable candidates to office – lest they experience any buyers’ remorse, as is so often expressed between these many elections.

By ‘silly season,’ we of course use the U.S. vernacular to refer to that time when political candidates refuse to line up and instead scramble for our attention. The incumbents speak up (some of them for what seems like the first time since elected) and the unknowns try to pull our focus.

In this tug-of-war, the incumbents – clearly – have the weight advantage. So much so, that, whatever the partisanship and whatever the political level, history shows the odds are greatly in the incumbents’ favour, based on name recognition alone.

That’s not to say these incumbents don’t deserve to be re-elected based on their voting patterns. After all, if you like how your cities – Surrey and White Rock – have evolved or remained during the incumbents’ terms of office, they were part of the team that made that possible. If you don’t, come fall there should be options, including encouraging like-minded individuals to run for office or even throwing your own proverbial hat into the equally proverbial ring.

The thing is, the seasoned politician may try to have it both ways. He or she might try to convince you that what you like about your city is his or her doing, and what you dislike is not.

Worse still, we might find an incumbent who has sat on the sidelines, barely contributed to the discourse, rarely played devil’s advocate and too often voted by bloc or by rote.

It’s up to us voters to listen to their words now and, come Oct. 20, judge if they match their past actions.

This might be their silly season, but it’s our time to demand more, seriously.

Lance Peverley is the editor of Peace Arch News.

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