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What You Need to Know to Run for Council or School Board

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Municipal election season is almost upon us. Joey Villanueva

It’s only a matter of time until street signs, flyers, and door-to-door canvassers are out in force, reminding us that a municipal election is imminent. On October 26, Manitobans will be called back to the polls to vote for their mayors, reeves, councillors and school board members.

A compelling election, one might say, are those in which our incumbents are challenged by fresh faces, new ideas, and interesting platforms.

In Niverville and Ritchot, it’s been a while since most of our incumbents were faced with such a challenge. For most residents in these communities, there hasn’t been a need for any municipal election in eight years.

Back in 2018, the entirety of Niverville’s council won their seats by acclamation, since no challengers threw their hat in the ring. In Ritchot, three of five council members also won by acclamation. The only close race was the one that played out in St. Adolphe between Ron Mamchuk and challenger Keith Pearce; Mamchuk squeaked ahead by just 26 votes.

If you’re a reader and are thinking about running either for council or our local school board, the time to prepare is now. You’ll need to understand the requirements for registering as a candidate well before you consider campaign strategy.

To qualify, you must be at least 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen, and a registered voter within the town, municipality, or school division in which you plan to run.

If it’s the mayor’s seat you’re after, or a position on the local school board, registration is already open, with candidates being able to make their intentions known as of May 1. Starting June 30, registration will open for the positions of councillor.

Registration for all positions will remain open until September 20.

Each municipal council and school division has appointed someone as their Senior Election Official (SEO) whose job it is to provide residents with direction and supervision over the course of the election period. You can visit your municipal office or school division office to register and connect with the SEO in your community.

Once registered, you can kickstart your campaign. Each municipality sets their own campaign finance rules and will require you to keep track of your contributions and expenses over the campaign period.

Between September 14–20, your official nomination papers need to be handed in to the SEO or school division office and must include a minimum of 25 signatures from the voting public in your area who stand in support of your nomination. Only then can your name officially appear on the ballot.

But maybe you’re thinking about the time commitment required if you win, and your rate of pay. Remuneration for council positions is dependent on what your current council has deemed fair. It’s typically subject to cost-of-living adjustments with each annual budget.

A term on council means a four-year commitment. As for time spent fulfilling the role, Niverville mayor Myron Dyck says that it will average about 10 hours per week for a councillor and about 20 hours for the mayor.

In Niverville, a councillor’s pay comes to approximately $17,000. The deputy mayor gets a bump up to $19,000 and the mayor tops them all at $26,000.

Responsibilities include attending at least two council meetings per month. At times it may also be necessary to attend conferences and spend a certain amount of time reading and researching in preparation for upcoming decisions that come up for vote.

In Ritchot, the mayor receives annual compensation of slightly more than $40,000 plus an additional $26.57 hourly to attend committee meetings. Councillors get paid around $22,000 in annual indemnities, plus $23.37 per hour for meeting attendance.

Ritchot councillor Curtis Claydon says that a large part of the pay covers the many hours each councillor invests by sitting on boards, such as Community Futures Triple R and others. He guesstimates that an approximate two hours per day is spent in this manner.

In times when the municipality calls a state of emergency, such as the current overland flood, more time is expected of the mayor and councillors.

As for school board positions, a trustee in the Hanover School Division would see an annual income of almost $12,000. The vice chairperson comes in at almost $13,000 and the chairperson is paid a little more than $15,000 per year. Each position also receives up to $900 to cover expenses.

Scott Bestvater, SEO for HSD, says that the time commitment for each position varies. The Citizen did not receive a response from the DSFM or Seine River School Division.

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