Local elections, regional roulette

When British Columbians go to the polls this Saturday to vote for mayors and councillors, they’ll also be voting indirectly for the next chair of their regional district.  This is a little strange, because we don’t know who the candidates will be for those regional leadership positions.

Metro Vancouver, the largest region, is budgeted to spend $620 million in 2012, or $524 for every household in the region.  The chair has influence over the Metro agenda; works closely with the well-paid ($323,767 in 2010) chief administrator, Johnny Carline, whose almost supernatural invisibility in the online world testifies to a high degree of skill; and perhaps most significant, the chair appoints the membership of the Metro committees that oversee Metro’s utilities, parks, housing and planning activities.  Continue reading

What Are We Voting For?

On November 19, 2011, British Columbia voters get a chance to cast their ballots for local government councils and school boards.  Past experience suggests that in most local areas, something between 25 and 30 per cent of voters will take the opportunity.

In my home town of Maple Ridge, perhaps 25 people will step forward to contest six municipal council seats.  Four or five members of the outgoing council will likely be re-elected; one has retired.  In other words, the hopes for the newcomers are slim, and the best odds lie with members of past councils who are recycling themselves back into political life.  Continue reading