As election registration deadline approaches, some municipalities still lacking candidates

As the province gets closer to municipal elections in October, some municipalities are lacking candidates.

Joe Masi is running for a spot on Council in the City of Portage la Prairie.

While the former Association of Manitoba Municipalities Executive Director is entering the political ring, he worries more and more are shying away from the municipal office in rural areas.

“I’ve heard there’s certainly people a little reluctant to come forward this time around and there’s a lot of reasons,” said Masi.

Some of those reasons include long hours, COVID-19 concerns, and disrespect toward elected officials online.

“At the municipal level, it’s really increased, people are getting more on social media, some people don’t want to go through that with their families.”

The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) says while in some rural communities there may be a lack of interest, in others, there are competitive races. But AMM Executive Director Denys Volkov notes there are negative interactions.

“On social media and in person in some instances,” said Volkov.

The AMM is calling on voters to be respectful and it has a campaign to encourage candidates who are running or are thinking of doing so with videos from current elected officials like Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke and Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman.

“Becoming a municipal elected official is an experience of a lifetime,” said Clarke.

“Running in a campaign is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun,” said Bowman.

This might not just be an issue for smaller communities. With a week to go before the registration deadline, three Winnipeg councillors have no opponent, and there is only one candidate for mayor in Brandon.

“If you think you can do a better job then put your name forward,” said Volkov.

Masi is hoping he might inspire someone to do that.

“It makes a difference who sits on the council tables, that’s why I’m doing this, I hope this allows people to think about running,” said Masi.

The registration deadline is Sept. 20, with the election set for Oct. 26.

The province says If no one is nominated for a mayor or council spot, those positions can be filled by appointment or a by-election. 

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