I am proposing that the County of Paintearth change the way we elect our council.
I would like to remove the divisions within the council and elect all councillors at large. I believe that in the long term this will result in better governance for the County.
The argument for the status quo is that all areas of the county are assured representation and removal of divisions could result in all of council being from a small area.
My response to this is that I would like to be able to choose the best from the field of candidates running and not be confined to where they live.
Transportation and communications technology have changed since the current system was set up. No one is more than an hour away from anyone within the county and we all have a phone attached to our body for most waking hours.
We will have issues that affect one area of the county differently than another area but I think the intelligence and leadership abilities of councillors to deal with these issues will be more important than their address.
Municipal politics always struggles to field candidates. When someone chooses to run it inevitably becomes personal with the incumbent and the other possible new candidate.
By making the election at large we remove this conflict. Candidates are not challenging one incumbent, they are challenging all that are running.
This change may have a very capable leader come forward that did not in the past because she was satisfied with her division councillor, even though she deemed others on council incompetent.
Democracy is not served well by positions being filled by acclamation. With an at large approach, no seats are filled by acclamation as long as one more person is running than there are positions.
In conversation with the Paintearth administratorI learned that no Alberta rural municipality is electing all councillors at large at this time.
There are a few that elect the reeve at large, separate from division councillors. I am not supportive of that system as people who are willing to run for reeve and lose would likely be good councillors.
I would like to see Paintearth elect all councillors at large and then have council elect the reeve. I am told that these changes are allowable within the rules set out by Alberta Municipal Affairs.
I would like to see Paintearth lead Alberta in changing to electing all councillors at large.