I like chatting with people running for municipal office. I especially like talking to people who are going to be running in my ward. When I have chance to actually talk to a candidate (not just a Twitter convo), I like to ask them, “why are you running?”
There are lots of answers that I’d deem acceptable. There might be particular policy issues, possibly in the ward or city-wide. There might be a desire for different leadership. There might be a desire for more public consultation or stronger representation at council. Generally unspoken, there will usually be an element of ambition. Yes, it’s good if people feel called to serve their community, but you’ve got to have some ego to feel that you’re the person the ward needs.
There’s also a similar question, often unasked: why you and why not another candidate? If someone with similar views is already running, why are you jumping in?
Thinking about this in terms of diversity and representation at city council, there should be another angle to this question. If you’re a man running against women who hold similar views, why you and not them? If you’re white running against people of colour who hold similar views, why you and not them?
If you believe city council needs better representation than the abundance of middle-class, cis, heterosexual white males we have, why are you, a white guy, running against women or people of colour or members of other under-represented groups?
I’ve already written about why I will be more inclined to vote for a woman than a man, should the two candidates seem to be of similar merit. But now I’m going to take that a step further. If such a situation arises, I’m going to ask the men if they believe council should have better representation, and if so, why, then, are they running?