We need more democratic participation in the school board and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
While in the District of Squamish municipal elections, the number of candidates coming forward for either in the mayor’s chair or the council chambers has been outstanding, the same cannot be said for the Sea to Sky School Board and the SLRD.
Squamish and its surrounding areas have three seats on the school board. Every single one of those seats is expected to be filled by acclamation, a fancy way of saying ‘by default.’
Because no one else is running in opposition to those candidates.
The same goes for the Area D seat in the SLRD.
Luckily for us, there doesn’t seem to be any proof that the people filling those seats are unqualified.
For example, school trustees Rick Price and Ian Kent have much experience as board members. Celeste Bickford will be a new trustee, but we should give her a chance, as well.
It’s not the first rodeo for SLRD director Tony Rainbow, either.
Nevertheless, it is somewhat disappointing that no one else in the community seems to have the interest in simply filling out a nomination package.
Diversity is key to providing balanced voices that are necessary for a well-functioning democratic society.
So it stands to reason that if voters have only one choice to pick from, there’s a strong chance residents won’t get all their concerns or needs addressed.
More candidates aren’t the answer to everything, but it certainly reduces the chances of voters being stuck with something they don’t want. In perhaps one of the most extreme examples in the Sea to Sky Corridor, Whistler’s mayor is being elected simply because he’s shown up. There is not a single person opposing Jack Crompton. The same applies for the mayoral races in Pemberton and Lions Bay.
Like with my other examples, this is not a criticism against Crompton or anyone else who is expected to win by acclamation.
It’s just startling to think that anyone could get the top job at a municipality simply by just handing in nomination papers.
No campaigning necessary. No need to win over people’s votes. No need to make promises or to demonstrate skill or knowledge. Just show up.
For this year, it’s too late.
Unfortunately, the time for new candidates to get in the race has long passed.
But come the next election cycle in 2022, I’d urge anyone who has some interest in how our local communities are governed to do one thing.
Just show up.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.