by David Herman
Every candidate for public office should have a statement: “I’m running because…”, that clearly lays out the candidate’s reasons for running. History has proven over and over that this statement is rarely the real reason the candidate is running, so how do we determine what their motivation is.
Four of the reasons for seeking public office are as follows:
Personal reasons: Some candidates run because they feel slighted by their opponent in local government. These candidates usually want to go negative very quickly in their attacks on their opponent, as, in their opinion, the way to correct the wrong they feel they have been dealt is to run for office.
Psychological reasons: Many candidates choose to run to stoke their own ego, to be in the spotlight and have people tell them how great they are. These candidates are running to be something, rather than to do something. A good example of this can be found by looking to the south, where an individual, whose ego is so large that he truly believes that he knows better than anyone else, wants to impose his will on others. I do not think I have to mention any names here.
Opportunistic reasons: Exploiting chances offered by immediate circumstances, without reference to a general plan or moral principle. They run for an office they can win, rather than the one they want, in the hope that this will position them to run at a later time for the office they really want.
Altruistic reasons: Based on a desire to genuinely make a difference. Some candidates run because they truly want to change policy or conditions for their constituents. These conditions are few and far between, but I am of a mind that we now have a council of this type. It is a noble calling to make a difference for people, but the system is usually stacked against them. It will not be easy to accomplish most of what you are laying out before you, so it is important to be realistic about your goals.
For the second term in succession, we have had a vacancy on council shortly after the election; but this time, because of the tenacity of a councillor at that time, we had a process to quickly and democratically fill the vacancy. That councillor was, of course, Jim Bertram. Thank you Jim.
How did we get to this place? The press release issued by the Municipality of North Grenville on the afternoon of January 24 stated that Councillor McCormick submitted his resignation effective January 22, citing personal reasons as the motivation behind the decision. Why does a person put themselves out as a candidate, which entails a great investment in time, energy, resources (volunteers, money, literature, signage, etc.) and then resign just as the council is getting set to start making a difference? The election was October 23, 2018. The swearing in of the Mayor and Councillors was December 3. Councillor McCormick was among those taking the oath of office at that time. Now that the council was official, it was time to put together their committees to help run the municipality.
It appears that Councillor McCormick had a strong desire to be the council representative on the Police Services Board. After a long career as a member of the OPP, you can understand he would have a strong interest and feel that he had something to contribute to the Board. But, the rules do not allow a retired officer who has retired less than two years to serve on the PSB. This fact was explained to Councillor McCormick prior to the decision to name the council representative.
It is, I should state, the role of the mayor to make these assignments, after satisfying the due diligence that is incumbent on political appointments. It makes one wonder which of the four reasons for seeking public office was the real reason that Mr. McCormick decided to enter the race in the first place. Was it solely his decision, or were there others that encouraged, and perhaps helped him, in his campaign? We will, I suppose, never know, as Mr. McCormick has stated he has nothing further to add, other than what was in the press release. If I had – and I did not – voted for this candidate, I would feel cheated and owed an explanation for his actions, or lack thereof. His polling was second highest for councillor, at 2,795 behind only Jim McManaman, so almost half of the voters that voted chose him, only to have him pick up his toys and go home before the game had even got under way.
“Personal Reasons” may be a valid reason but, in my opinion, it is a reason that explains anything, and it is usually used when the person doesn’t want to say that he is leaving because of a bruised ego, or other personal reason.
Going back to the start of this piece, maybe we should have some sort of penalty when their “reason for running” is proven to be nowhere near the reality of their performance, but that will add another layer of bureaucracy, and that we do not need.