A principled stand

Questions have emerged about the legality of sitting on local council while running for higher office.

In short, it is perfectly legal but incredibly imperfect.

Were an MP or MPP to decide it was time to slow down or matters close to home compelled that person to run for mayor as an example, that member would need to resign their seat. There is a bit of irony there, where taking a step down in a sense requires decisive action yet advancing up the political food chain carries little if any risk. In the latter case a loss really doesn’t affect the councillor turned candidate. If anything, there is some benefit in terms of name recognition the next time a municipal election rolls around.

Historically there have been multiple candidates over the years that draped themselves in a party banner and ran for MPP. Memory escapes us on whether they took a leave or trucked right along, accepting their stipend, continuing to perform local chores on council, albeit at a diminished capacity. 

It would appear to be a win-win for those seeking higher office, but what about the taxpayer?

That is what makes the recent announcement by Centre Wellington councillor Stephen Kitras (who is running for the New Blue Party) to forego council pay and step back from local meetings a welcome expression of good will. It is a measure of honesty we find refreshing. 

Ideally, candidates considering a move up would face the same rigor as an MP or MPP being required to vacate their seat when they make a council run. In the absence of a requirement to “pick-one” political role and give it your all, Kitras has done the next best thing.

A principled stand – what a concept.