Election promises

Rarely does a promise come without a cost, and candidates have an obligation to identify what that cost will be.

Election season is upon us. Potential candidates have until October 10 to file their paperwork and officially declare their intentions to run for office. Once that deadline passes, the campaigning shall begin in earnest.

Here’s a simple request for candidates seeking election in the upcoming school board, regional district and municipal elections: Only promise what you can deliver.

That might seem an obvious request. But all too often, candidates vow to achieve things they clearly cannot. They either fail to provide the true cost of their promise, or they promise something outside the legal mandate of the office they seek.

Call it exuberance. Call it ignorance. Either way it doesn’t serve the voter and it disrespects the process.

For example, there are some fairly severe limits on what a city can and cannot do. It must work within the provincial legislation that governs its existence.

School boards face similar restrictions. A promise by a school board candidate to hire more teachers won’t happen without an explanation of where the money to pay for those new employees will come from. School districts (unlike the federal or provincial government, or even a city), cannot, by provincial law, run a deficit.

Rarely does a promise come without a cost, and candidates have an obligation to identify what that cost will be.

A promise to cut taxes, or at least hold them at zero, must include details on where the cuts in services will be made (or alternate revenue found) to accommodate that plan.

None of this is to suggest candidates can’t have ideas or voice creative and imaginative solutions to the problems their communities face. But they have an obligation to voters to ensure that what they promise is practical — or even possible.

And we as voters have the responsibility to do the research and ask the tough questions to ensure these lofty ideas have some grounding in reality.