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Make Your Mark encourages NLers to run for municipal office

Mount Pearl Coun. Paula Tessier is one of the current council members featured on the new Make Your Mark website. The campaign aims to get more people involved in municipal politics.
Mount Pearl Coun. Paula Tessier is one of the current council members featured on the new Make Your Mark website. The campaign aims to get more people involved in municipal politics.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) wants you to make your mark in the upcoming municipal election — whether that means having your own name on a ballot or ticking someone else’s.

Karen Oldford, president of MNL, said more than half of this province’s municipalities didn’t even have enough candidates for an election four years ago.

“Only 45 per cent of councils during the last provincial election for municipal councils needed to have an election. That meant 55 per cent went in by acclamation or didn’t have enough people in fact to run and had to have a byelection,” she said.

“And 25 per cent of municipalities were unable to fill all the positions on their council since the last election. There’s still that many that don’t have their full quota.”

The Make Your Mark campaign, launched Tuesday, aims to change that by encouraging more citizens running for council in their communities. The campaign website, launched today, features a series of videos that provide insight into what it’s like to work as a member of council.

Mount Pearl Coun. Paula Tessier, in one of the featured videos, says she hears a lot of people talking about running for office “one of these days.”

“Do it now,” she urges. “This day is better than any day. Do it now. If you have the initiative and you have the drive and you have the interest in doing it, in running for council, run for council now. It’s scary, but what’s scarier is wanting to do something and not trying.”

Along with the videos, the website provides handy resources for prospective candidates, including information about election signage regulations, the province’s Municipal Elections Act, and a guide for female candidates written by the Alberta Government.

Along with filling seats, Oldford said the campaign aims to add a little diversity to municipal governments.

“When we look at the age of our councillors, many of our councillors are over the age of 50 for sure. Most of them probably even retirees.
“We’re trying to increase the diversity at our table by appealing to women, who form 50 per cent of the population, yet 37 per cent of the elected councillors to our tables. And youth, who again, are only represented at 3.5 per cent of our councils,” she said.

“This website hopefully will increase our diversity around our council tables and encourage people to recognize that they do have a role to play and that they can, in fact, be a councillor and have a positive impact on their community.”

Oldford said the campaign, while it’s being launched in time for the municipal election, will be an ongoing effort to get people to make their mark.

Visit the campaign website at www.makeyourmarknl.ca.

 

lpower@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyLouis

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