Exhorting the electorate to show up at the ballet box is fine. Elaborating on strengths or foibles of particular candidates is quite acceptable. But if you want a reputation of being non-partisan – and most journalists do – you don’t come right out and name names of whom you think voters should be favouring.
Which is all well and good. Hard to argue with keeping bias to a minimum. Besides, few voters — including me — want to be told where to cast their vote. We get enough of that from candidates and their campaign teams. Like most, I want to make up my own mind, using my own criteria.
But not everyone has the time or inclination to do the research needed to make an informed assessment of every candidate in the running. Especially if the field is large. With 4 individuals announced as running for mayor and 40 running for councillor in the 2018 Nanaimo municipal election, that’s a ratio of four and five candidates for every available position. What’s needed by everyone is a reasonable basis to narrow the field, a way to winnow out the chaff.
At this point, I really have no idea of the identities of all those that I will pick. So I couldn’t make nine specific recommendations to you even if I wanted. However, I’ve always used writing to nail down my thoughts about issues like this, and it occurs to me that if I write here about my own sorting of the candidates, it might prove useful to others who are doing the same.
Over the next weeks, I’ll use the factors I consider important to gauge everyone who’s running. I’ll assess who meets my criteria and who falls away. I may not successfully reduce the number to exactly the number of positions available. I may wind up with more, or less. If more than eight councillors and one mayoralty candidate make it through and I’ve sorted accurately, it shouldn’t be a problem. My selecting any candidate from my short list should make for a winning situation. If there are less candidates than needed, I’ll have more work to do.
Next week, I’ll begin by organizing the candidates for council into manageable chunks. I won’t include the School Board — not that I think it’s unimportant — for now, I’ll leave that to you or others more knowledgable than me regarding those positions. And if my sorting strategy works, it should be portable. It should also be useful for selecting the best people for the School Board.
Starting with the candidates for Councillor in Nanaimo, I’ll first consider the incumbents. Then, I’ll sort the non-incumbents. While the same criteria will apply to both, the evidence to evaluate may differ for the groups. The incumbents have a track record of their performance on Nanaimo council; the non-incumbents don’t. Evaluating the latter may involve more speculation. Not so for the mayor, which I’ll look at second. Since Bill McKay has decided not to run, all mayoralty candidates are non-incumbents. There’s no need to break them into separate groups.
That’s it. Hope to see you here later in the week for the first selection.