Democratic process only works if candidates are serious about running

Erin Fawcett

Nomination Day on Sept. 20 provided the media a chance to meet and chat with Red Deerians choosing to run for City council, school board trustee and even mayor.

Most of the candidates were excited about the possibility of representing the great citizens of this City and ensuring a better future for young and old – and I do say most candidates, because this applies to all except for one.

Hilary Penko, 35, a resident of the City for four years, walked through the doors declaring to the media she was running for mayor.

At first, this seemed like a great thing. Healthy competition is good and it’s wonderful when people have a passion – not to mention, everyone has the right to run for political office.

This being said, Penko was a disappointment. She stated her sole reason for running for the mayor’s chair is simply because she did not feel it was right that Mayor Morris Flewwelling wins by acclamation.

Fair enough. Acclamations are not my favourite thing either.

But what I think she fails to realize, is that running for mayor needs to be taken seriously. On Nomination Day, it seemed she was lacking that seriousness.

In an interview with media, she said she had slept on her decision for five nights before making it official.

Being the mayor of a City with 90,000 citizens is a lot of work. I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

Flewwelling is at every major event the City has from fundraisers to the grand openings of businesses and I even remember him telling me that he’s attended milestone birthdays and anniversary celebrations as well on behalf of the City.

In addition to the social aspect of the mayor’s job, very serious decisions also have to be made. These decisions could affect people’s lives. It’s not something to be taken lightly.

One can only hope that in addition to Penko taking five nights to make her decision, she’s researched the mayor’s job well and understands what it takes to be the top dog.

Nothing is ever certain with elections. There is a chance, be it small or not, Flewwelling may not be re-elected. Stranger things have happened.

In saying this I would question if Penko really knows what she’s getting into. Can you imagine if someone becomes mayor and they have no clue about what the job entails? I think the citizens of Red Deer would be in trouble and deserve better.

In the past there has been a run for the mayor’s chair — the only difference is, the candidates were in it to win it.

During the 2007 election, three candidates had their sights set on the top job. This included Flewwelling, former Councillor Jeffrey Dawson and Matt Chapin.

Dawson was certainly seeking a win and Chapin, even though he was young and maybe wasn’t taken seriously by many, did his best. I think his bid was sincere.

It’s disappointing that Penko appears to not be running for the right reasons. And yes, as I stated earlier everyone has this right to run, but it is unfortunate that she will waste the time of many.

Ideally, a candidate running for mayor should first spend time on council learning the ropes and the ins and outs of municipal politics.

It’s hard to respect someone who just parachutes in and doesn’t seem sincere in her actions.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how Penko will fare in the upcoming forums. There are a few in the coming weeks and she will definitely be in the hot seat. Hopefully she can take the heat or get out of the kitchen.

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