Dalhousie professor working to get residents more involved in community

Brick exterior of Region of Queens Municipality Administration Building
Region of Queens offices. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 13-08-2020

A university professor is hoping online sessions will get more people involved with their community and perhaps even entice more people to run for a seat on local councils.

Jack Novack, director of Dalhousie University's local government program says the four free sessions called Your Decision, teach people what local government is all about, why they should care, what it’s like to be an elected official and how to organize a campaign.

The session consist of a panel of experts who will present information over Zoom, then answer questions from participants.

Novack says the technology that is available to people now makes campaigning simpler than it’s ever been.

“Especially today with home printers, it’s very easy to produce a promotional piece and get a few people to help you and get out and start talking to your neighbours," says Novack.

He is encouraging people to be involved in their communities at a level that is appropriate for whatever stage of life they find themselves but recognizes not everyone can be a full-time councilor if, perhaps they are raising children, but everybody can do something.

“The strength of your community is the sum total of all the individual contributions that people make,” says Novack. “The other side of the spectrum is to have people simply as recipients of what others will do for them, and that doesn’t really lead, I think, to a healthy democracy.”

Novack would like to see a more dynamic and active local government where citizens move away from being recipients to becoming, what he calls ‘co-architects’ of their community.

“I think that is more likely to happen when you have a greater energy and greater participation both by people who are active citizens as well as those people who are competing for positions on council,” says Novack.

The Region of Queens has posted links to the sessions on their website.

Mayor David Dagley says councils constantly receive new information from the province.

He says it’s important for people to understand what they’re signing up for when they put their name on the ballot.

“I think it will be very beneficial to any individual in Queens who’s considering running for office to have all the information that is available,” says Dagley.

Novack says people need to realize they have skills to offer to their communities as there’s a tendency for potential candidates to eliminate themselves from the running.

“Some people say, I’m not a layer, I’m not an engineer, I’m not a dentist, I’m not an architect, I’m not at planner, and my response to them well, that’s good. That’s a major advantage because that’s not the reason why you should be on council,” says Novack. “You should be on the council because you care deeply about your community, you have average ability, and you have the most important ingredient, which is time.”

Novack hopes by offering these sessions, new people will be encouraged to run for council and bring their fresh energy and ideas with them to help revitalize the municipal level of government.

Potential candidates have until September 8 to get their name on the ballot for the October 17 municipal election.

The Your Decision information sessions are held via Zoom meeting each Tuesday until September 8 between 6:00pm and 7:00pm.

There is no charge but people must sign up in advance to get the log in information.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson