Are three year terms for councillors long enough? | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Are three year terms for councillors long enough?

    Is three years long enough for municipal councillors to serve a mandate? Could more be accomplished in four years?
    While this question has been floated before, it appears that it is gaining some credence. The Alberta Party has included it as part of its platform, and the Alberta Association Urban Municipalities is pushing for it. Calgary and Edmonton have also come on board.
    Mayor Terry Yemen says three-year terms may be good for larger municipalities, but maybe not for smaller communities.
    “It might be an easy decision for bigger centres, where being a councillor is your occupation and you are quite well compensated,” said Mayor Terry Yemen. “In smaller towns in terms of compensation, it is a part time job at best.”
    One issue, he sees is attracting candidates. By simply adding another year to a term, it could make it more difficult for residents to commit to serving as a councillor, as it is a much bigger commitment.
    Former Mayor Bryce Nimmo also could foresee difficulty in attracting councillors to serve a four-year term.
    “In my opinion you are going to have a hard time finding people,” said Nimmo.
    Nimmo said that three years is enough time to continue to move forward.
    “In the first year you are busy finishing off things that are going on. In the second year is the chance to do the things that are necessary to move ahead, and the third year, you are completing that, and setting up a few things that won’t necessarily tie down the next council, but get them moving forward,” he said.
    He adds that staff and administration provide the continuity for projects to be seen through even as councils change.
    Councillor Doug Stanford is serving his first term as a Drumheller Town Councillor. If he were facing a four-year term, he would have thought twice. While he is retired, he could see juggling a professional life with public office as a difficult commitment.
    “There is a big work load, people don’t realize that,” said Stanford. “If you take something on you do the best you can and you need time to do it.”
    He also feels that three year terms can bring more accountability. Voters have a chance to decide sooner rather than later if they are satisfied with an elected official’s performance.
    “If you want to run again, you run again. Maybe people would not want you, and maybe there is a reason for it. If they don’t think you are doing your job, then they are entitled to their opinion,” said Stanford. “If you are in there for four years and you’re not doing your job, it is hard to get you out of there. If you think you are doing a good job, and want to stay, then run again.”

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