School boards need to be involved when it comes to potential changes to municipal elections, rather than just being included in consultations, says the chair of the Red Deer Public Schools board.
“This impacts local government. We should be respected partners. Local democracy is extremely important,” Nicole Buchanan said.
This week, the province announced public consultations on the rules that govern municipal and school board elections, saying it continues to receive feedback suggesting gaps exist in the Local Authorities Election Act.
Discussions with representatives from municipalities and community advocacy groups will also be held.
Albertans have until March 4 to provide feedback online at Alberta.ca about the length of the campaign period, nomination process, campaign finances, third-party advertising and recall of municipally elected officials.
“We are not sure where the gaps or issues are, but local government needs to be involved throughout the process, not part of the consultation,” Buchanan said.
She said another concern of locally elected school boards has been the erosion of roles and responsibilities.
“It is important that school boards continue to have a strong, local voice and advocate for the very best education system for our children.
“It has been a consistent message throughout the province.”
Buchanan said she hopes awareness grows about what locally elected school boards do for their communities as a result of the consultation.
She said party politics should not be part of municipal elections, a concern among some municipal politicians, because a broad spectrum of perspectives is beneficial.
“Albertans expect local elections to be fair, transparent and inclusive. This consultation will determine if and how we, as a government, can better meet these goals,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu in a statement.
“While this will not be a wholesale review like the one in 2018, we are looking to Albertans for feedback on areas that can be improved before the next round of municipal and school board elections.”
The Local Authorities Election Act governs elections for cities, towns, villages, summer villages, municipal districts, counties, specialized municipalities and school boards.