November 20, 2013 – It’s been almost two months since Better Choices Waterloo Region held two well-attended public meetings in Cambridge and Kitchener to introduce ourselves and our goals for next year’s municipal elections. We have done a lot of work since those meetings, and would like to share our news with you in this message.
The comments and suggestions from the wide range of community members attending the September meetings formed the basis for identifying key issues and desired candidate characteristics. These comments and suggestions also informed decisions about who should make the ultimate selection of endorsed candidates, and how. As a result of these meetings, Better Choices Waterloo Region will better reflect the democratic and progressive policies we’d like to see in the Region of Waterloo.
It’s time now to ask you to start working together with us! A lengthy message with all the details follows below.
Our Issues, Our Candidates
The quality of input at our two public meetings in September was excellent. It was clear that many people have put a lot of time and thought into what would make our municipalities more progressive and responsive to the needs of our citizens.
When we looked at what you told us were the most important issues municipally, and what kind of candidates you wanted to see representing you, it all boiled down to four key issues and three main characteristics.
Strengthening our Local Economy
Building an Open and Inclusive Government
Creating a Livable and Sustainable Community
Knowledgeable and seeks information
A report describing each of these issues and characteristics in detail, as well as how we gathered the information at our September public meetings, is on our Issues and Candidates page.
At our September public meetings, we asked people to help shape the decision-making structure for our broad, non-partisan coalition. Many of these people came to two subsequent public meetings in October, where an Executive of ten-twelve people was created to make key decisions on candidate endorsement and campaign strategy.
We decided these were reasonable rules to guide our Executive:
As much as possible, the Executive should have gender parity, represent the diversity of issues identified to be of interest to Better Choices, and represent all geographical areas of Waterloo Region.
Meetings of the Executive will be open to all supporters of Better Choices Waterloo Region
No candidate or potential candidate may be a member of the Executive.
No candidate or potential candidate may be present when decisions about candidate endorsement or campaign strategy affecting endorsed candidates are to be discussed.
Guests at Executive meetings will have voice but no vote.
We believe we have an Executive that meets our desired diversity. You can take a look at our Executive members and which Better Choices issues they are most interested in on our About Us page.
The Executive will meet monthly from now until next October. We will post the meeting dates on our website and promote them through our various communications channels. Our next two meetings are December 11th and January 15th.
Time to Start the Work
We received many offers at our September public meetings from volunteers (that’s you!) to help us in our work of evaluating our incumbent Councillors and Trustees and recruiting new candidates. We’re ready to get started with you on this important work.
There are three main categories of tasks associated with evaluating candidates:
Sharing information about incumbents
Gathering information about incumbents
Recruiting new potential candidates
We have put together materials for you (and your friends, and new volunteers!) to help us with that work. And it’s all on our website under Endorsement Process.
What do you think of our current representatives?
To evaluate our incumbent Councillors and Trustees, we have created forms which ask you to assess their positions on Better Choices issues and the characteristics they do or don’t possess. If you have information to share on some of the incumbents because of your experience working with or observing them, you can either fill out the form yourself or contact us to have one of our information gatherers connect with you to pick your brain.
If you don’t necessarily have opinions on the incumbents, but would be willing to help gather information from others, then tell us, and we’ll connect you with the Information sharers! And of course, one great way to form your own opinions is to attend a Council or School Board meeting yourself: take some forms (or your smartphone) with you and fill out your own assessments of the incumbents! Now is a good time to start doing that, as most Councils are debating their budgets for next year: a crucial time to witness their true colours!
Do you know progressive people who might run?
It’s also time to start finding progressive people who might consider putting their names forward as candidates. We have put together a Candidate Recruitment Package to help you be recruiters. We want everybody’s help in identifying potential candidates. If you think someone would be a good candidate, please share that information by filling out a Potential Candidate Form. We will co-ordinate who approaches each person and keep track of the responses.
Our Endorsement Process
We will start endorsing candidates as early as January for next October’s elections. That’s because we want to give our endorsed candidates the opportunity to run a serious campaign and to promote that they are endorsed by Better Choices Waterloo Region. We will offer them the use of our logo for their campaign literature and lawn signs, among other supports.
For that reason, we will contact all 74 incumbents of the municipal Councils and School Boards in Waterloo Region this month to tell them what we are doing and why. All candidates seeking our endorsement will be required to complete a questionnaire based on Better Choices issues.
Once we receive a completed candidate questionnaire, our Executive will schedule a face-to-face interview with the candidate. Then, the Executive will assess that candidate based on the questionnaire, the interview, any information gathered by our volunteers, and other strategic considerations. The Executive may decide to make or deny an endorsement right away, or it may decide to defer a decision until it has more information about a particular race.
All endorsement decisions will be made by August 2014: no candidate questionnaires will be accepted after August 1st.
We need your help now to gather up information on incumbents and start talking to potential candidates!
If you have any questions, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a phone message for us at the Labour Council office, who have agreed to pass messages on to us right away.
Let’s start the work of creating Better Choices for Waterloo Region now!
The Executive of Better Choices Waterloo Region