Elections season on brink of ramp up

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Election season is fast approaching, with campaigning anticipated to be underway before the next seasonal shift. Nomination day for the municipal election is Sept. 18 and the election will take place Oct. 16.

Council unanimously moved forward with the implementation of an elections bylaw, reinforcing the same processes from the 2013 election – voter identification, eligibility parameters for candidates; and campaign contribution maximums.

Administration is not recommending a ward system (like Rocky View County) or the implementation of a voters list at this time.

Coun. Ross Watson is in agreement.

“I don’t think a ward system is in Cochrane’s future,” said Watson, adding that he feels it would be “unproductive” given Cochrane’s size. He is of the view that a ward system is more applicable to populations in excess of 300,000.

Are six councillors enough?

The five-term councillor thinks so – but acknowledges that this has been a heavy term for decision-making for mayor and council, with respect to development.

“I do not know of any municipalities of our size that have made so many decisions on such huge projects in one year.”

Jaylene Knight, manager of legislative services for the town and returning officer for this election, said new this year is the requirement for candidates to register with their municipality prior to raising campaign contributions; this change does not apply to those funding their own campaigns.

This falls under Section 147.21 of the Local Authorities Elections Act.

Coun. Morgan Nagel said he would like to see provincial regulations trickle down to the municipal level – to prohibit corporate or union donations. Nagel is not a fan of developer-funded campaigns either.

“The campaign contribution limit is $5,000 aggregate amount, which includes cash donations as well as in-kind,” explained Knight.

“Although the province has limited contributions from unions, etc. at the provincial level that change has not been done at the municipal level.”

The 33 per cent voter turnout in the last election saw 4,543 voters out of an eligible 13,789.

There were three mayoral candidates in 2013 and 13 vying for a seat on council.

Thirty-two special ballots were requested in the 2010 municipal election; 33 in the 2013 election.

The 2013 election budget of $26,000 is estimated to double this time around – with an estimation of $51,340.

According to Knight, this is due in part to Cochrane’s significant population growth, which drives up the cost of ballots, forms and staffing; the rental of new electronic voting machines also has an impact on cost

As of April 3 there were no registered candidates.

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Cochrane Eagle