When I announced my pending retirement from public office in last week’s column it was my intent to do so in as quiet a way as possible. This was important from my perspective because I believe all too often there can be too much focus on the personalities in public office and not enough time spent looking at the actual policies and the results of government projects and priorities.
In response to my announcement I was quite touched by the amount of kind words and best wishes that I received from many people who I have met in my time as a Member of the Legislative Assembly. In fact there were likely more sincere well wishes over the past week then there have been over the previous 17 years!
I do sincerely want to thank those who took the time to pass on such kind words.
One of the questions I have been asked recently is “How will a new MLA get selected?” It is a good question and one that is often overlooked.
At the moment British Columbia’s two largest political parties are, to the best of my knowledge, are currently looking for potential candidates to represent the parties here in the riding of Penticton for the next election.
At the moment each party has at least two candidates that have publicly stated an interest with rumors of more giving serious consideration to stepping forward for a nomination.
Each party has its own system of screening potential applicants as well as different rules governing the system that will be used for an election to decide what candidate will represent the party at the next provincial general election to be held on May 14 of next year.
Political parties in B.C. are free to be able to establish guidelines with respect to candidate selection and not all use a democratic component. It is also extremely likely that at least one or more other political parties will likely also announce either a candidate or a process to decide upon a candidate in this riding at some point in the near future.
I would also not be surprised if there were one or more independent candidates as well. Once candidates have been determined then guidelines established by Elections BC will apply for the provincial general election and further information can be located online at www.elections.bc.ca
For those of you currently considering running for public office I would encourage you to first discuss the idea with your family. If elected the amount of time and travel you will be away from home is extremely significant.
It is also important to understand that elected officials are subject to a level of scrutiny and at times a level of abuse that can be deeply personal and hurtful to your children, your spouse, your parents and extended family.
If you believe that life at times can be unfair, consider that in public life at times your fate may be decided upon by the media and other experts who may not even afford you the courtesy of a phone call before they cast judgement against you. In short entering the life of public office can be a very challenging and demanding decision and is not one that should be taken lightly.
The upside is that if you have a sincere desire to make a difference in your community there is no limit to the opportunity of what you can achieve. When people work together for the benefit of the public they serve amazing things can be done. The ability to help others and shape the future of our region and that of the province is an extremely rewarding experience as are the lifelong friendships you will acquire along the way. If you have ever contemplated running to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly, there is no time like the present to put your name forward.