Re: 2013 municipal election (Red Deer County)
Over the years, a question of Red Deer County’s credibility for democracy exists with the drawing of a candidate’s name from a hat.
Election results have been tarnished with the current process that was used that influenced the outcome of the Oct. 21 municipal election. This same process was used in the Oct. 18, 2004, municipal election and identical concerns were noted.
The process was appalling then and is now again, heightened with two councillors elected from a draw from a hat. This is not democracy — it is a crap shoot.
This view is also shared by many throughout the Red Deer County.
This process is overdue for correction — a draw was made, I surmise, according to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) / Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).
Hopefully, the new Red Deer County council will evaluate and make necessary recommendations to other municipalities and to the Alberta government that reflect genuine fairness and impartiality. This is where change must begin and directed to the Alberta government for revision. It should be the voters whose choose their elected representative if tied. It should not be a draw, throw of the dice or cutting of a deck of cards — thus why are elections held?
Like many organizations that have two or more individuals running for office, an election is called and the individual(s) receiving the least number of votes are eliminated and if the top two tie, they contend for the right to govern or represent. Why could this not have happened before or after the election in the name of democracy (not lady luck), thus giving the winning candidate at least 51 per cent of the majority of votes cast?
Yes I am prepared for the extra cost in the name of democracy. Democracy should never be hobbled and should not be a draw for choice.
This year’s tie vote is the fourth that I can remember in Red Deer County. I am not sure what the odds are for tie votes but appear to be overwhelming as per permutation factors and probabilities of numbers. Yes — I am skeptical and question the odds of this happening so often.
The Red Deer County’s chief electoral officer for the municipal election is a Red Deer County employee (Nancy Lougheed), who is responsible for the training and information session for the electoral staff. This individual reports directly to the CAO (Curtis Herzberg — manager) of Red Deer County, who is accountable to those individuals elected. Could this be considered a conflict of interest and who is ultimately responsible for the operations of the Red Deer County?
I suspect Mr. Herzberg would immediately tell you that he has no jurisdiction over the election process and yet he would be correct on his supervision of Mrs. Lougheed. Mrs. Lougheed works for the chief electoral officer for the province of Alberta. The question of the names shown to both candidates prior to the draw and placed in the hat is also in question.
In the future, I would suggest that all Red Deer County personnel, including management, be at arm’s length from the electoral process for those successful individuals who will set policy and govern both management and staff in the county. Why not reciprocate with either the City of Red Deer or another neighbour county or municipalities to eliminate any doubt or mistrust in the electoral process. (Rotate: Delburne, Elnora, Penhold, Innisfail, Bowden, etc.)
The role and responsibility for both councillors, COA (manager) and staff should be re-evaluated and defined as to the power and authority with no possibility of a conflict of interest.
It is imperative that elections with questionable matters (results) and involvement from the Red Deer County staff and management be eliminated. The county must be up front, trustworthy and beyond any reproach for a conflict of interest. The present structure is highly questionable!
I look forward to seeing more than political lip service that is often put forward. Hopefully, the voters will see a new positive outlook and consciousness with vigour in addressing the voters’ wishes. To the newly elected councillors, I congratulate you.
To those who must deal with the practical aspects of the problems, I offer my best wishes and I am grateful for the opportunity of sharing a few general thoughts. I look forward to your correspondence in these election matters.
Municipal governments should be working for the people and not the people for the government.
Wm. B. (Bill) Weisenburger