It’s election season here in Edmonton. Mostly this means that my phone is taken up with RoboCalls from people I am not likely to vote for, my mail box is full of flyers and candidates show up at the most inconvenient time, hoping I will interrupt my dinner to vote for them.
Municipal politics are probably the politics that most matter to your daily life. Don’t like the snow removal, the pot holes, the lack of transit options, the lack of policing? Those are all things that your Mayor and your City Councillors can fix. Municipal politics are the ultimate in retail politics.
Now, I’m an old hand at politics. More at the Federal and Provincial level, but I cut my teeth delivering flyers in a little red wagon for elections. I thought every kid did that.
What I’m really trying to say is that I understand that municipal politics are important, that they are based on connections (hence the retail politics) and that it’s a hard job to be a candidate. It’s the world’s most expensive, longest and most humiliating job interview ever. If and when you finally get the job, you are then effectively going to start interviewing for the same job, all over again, at the same time as you try to do the job.
Most politicians, especially at the municipal level really do get into politics because they want to make a difference. My City Councillor made a whopping $88,000 last year. When you consider that I have seen Tony at a city event at 10 at night and then again at 8 the next morning, when you consider the thousands of pages they have to read, the 10 hour council meetings, the drop by’s of angry constituents, the inability to go grocery shopping without running into someone, I’m not sure that it’s the best job.
My Councillor made about 88K last year, which looks like a great deal, except I’m willing to believe that he worked at least 60 hours a week, just about every week. I bet he actually worked longer hours than that. In the end he made about 29 bucks an hour, which is a great wage, until you realize that there are a whole lot of things he could be doing that are way less stressful, way less likely to make people accost you in the grocery store and maybe more fun, that pay way better.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think it probably isn’t the life of Reilly to be a City Councillor. I know that I wouldn’t want to do it.
I see a fair bit of cynicism in the way that people approach elected officials. I get it. I’ve been guilty of it before. Probably will be again too. It’s easy to be cynical. It doesn’t require much thought. It’s easy to dismiss everyone in office as a liar or a thief or a egotistical maniac. It requires no thought, no parsing and you don’t even have to see them as human. It also relieves us of any requirement to think about politics, to engage with the polis.
All of this is long way around method of saying that on Monday I will walk up to my community league, cast my ballots for Mayor, City Councillor and School Board Trustee, and the whole shooting match, including getting myself to the polling place by my own 2 legs will probably take a maximum of 30 minutes.
Which is a pretty good price to pay for a job I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want.