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Small Westman communities face big challenges finding candidates

Fewer and fewer leaders are stepping up to represent Westman municipalities in 2014 and beyond.

With municipal and school board elections looming, finding candidates to fill those positions is becoming increasingly more challenging.

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Mayor Rick Pauls is seeking re-election in Killarney-Turtle Mountain, where only four people have taken out nomination papers for six councillor positions.

Pauls, who owns two businesses in the community, admitted he deliberated about putting his name forward this time, knowing the price elected officials pay in a small community.

“It’s a thankless job,” he said. “It costs you more in your personal and private life than you would ever benefit financially from it.”

There are some in the community who won’t frequent his business because of decisions that were made around the council table.

“It affects everything,” he said. “You face it every single day, but at the end of the day, if you’re not in a progressive community that keeps moving forward, then your business isn’t worth anything either.”

Pauls said it’s difficult to go out socially in a small community because you’re never allowed to take the “mayor’s hat” off.

While taxation is always a major topic for discussion, few speak of the taxation on human resources in rural communities, where too few shoulder the bulk of the work.

“It’s the same people doing those jobs over and over again and they’re tired and there isn’t another group stepping up,” Pauls said about the volunteers who step up to be the president of the local minor hockey association or chair a committee that runs a community event.

Apathy is an entirely different animal, according to Pauls.

“People aren’t even talking about it and I’ll be surprised if we have an election here. It’s either because everything is going good and people are happy or they just don’t care.”

The answer to attracting more and better candidates might be better compensation.

“People don’t want to do the job and the sacrifices you have to make are great and the compensation is horrible,” Pauls said.

In the southwestern corner of the province, where three RMs — Albert, Arthur, Edward — are amalgamating to form the Two Borders Municipality, Arthur CAO Sandra Anderson said the last four years have been difficult.

“I think we’re all concerned with the lack of interest, but we’ve gone through two major floods and forced amalgamation and it’s been tough for everyone who has fought to survive on the farm or in business,” she said.

Another council member, who wished not to be named, said amalgamation will play a huge role in diminishing the quality and quantity of people who will run.

“The busier the person is, the more you want them on your council because it means they care about the community,” he said. “Now the municipalities are too big and it’s too much responsibility for a lot of people. It is easier to get good people when it’s small, when it’s local.”

» ctweed@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @CharlesTweed

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 5, 2014

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Fewer and fewer leaders are stepping up to represent Westman municipalities in 2014 and beyond.

With municipal and school board elections looming, finding candidates to fill those positions is becoming increasingly more challenging.

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Fewer and fewer leaders are stepping up to represent Westman municipalities in 2014 and beyond.

With municipal and school board elections looming, finding candidates to fill those positions is becoming increasingly more challenging.

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