On Point | Why your town may not have a council

Many smaller communities throughout the province are having a hard time finding someone to put their name in for municipal elections.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador worried about lack of new political blood

On Point guest host Peter Cowan looks at municipal recruitment 17:35

Many smaller communities throughout the province are having a hard time finding someone to put their name in for municipal elections, and with elections looming in the fall, some officials are worried what the outcome will be.

Craig Pollett, the head of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, says it is extremely difficult finding someone willing to put their name on the ballot.

"If you have seven people on your council, you're getting seven people show up to run, so we don't actually have democracy happening — we have people sort of being appointed," Pollett said.

"Two elections ago, we had 15 towns who had nobody run, so it's a pretty serious issue."

Pollett said the majority of people involved in local politics are older and looking forward to their retirement, so they lose interest in running again.

According to Pollett, many of the older people in municipal politics got involved in the mid-1970s when there was a big push to expand local government.

"The fact is, the younger age group who would come in behind them was a much smaller part of the population. There's just far more of the older folks still in the communities," he said.

"There's only about three and a half per cent of sitting councillors that are under than age of 35, and we're putting some efforts into trying to change that … but it's going to be a challenge."

Political job everyone wants

Five contenders were officially named for the Liberal leadership race earlier this month.

Former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady said she's pleased there will be a leadership contest in the province.

"I'm very thankful that there are that many people who stepped up to the plate," Coady said.

"It's a big thing to put your name on a ballot at any given point … but to put yourself out there for leader, I think, is a very honourable thing to do and I'm glad to have five credible candidates in the race."

John Riche, an NDP candidate in the 2011 provincial election, said there isn't any one candidate who specifically stands out.

"I don't think I've seen really a saviour, as much, where there's really somebody who's gone right out front as sort of the person who's going to be the main person," Riche said.

"There is, certainly, Trudeau mania 2.0 happening here, and I think that's really what's giving them a lot of help and pushing them forward."

Shawn Skinner, a former PC MHA, said

"I think it's important to the Liberal party that they get back to their grassroots level — that people be seen to have an involvement in choosing a leader and not being anointing or giving the job to somebody," Skinner said.

"I think they really have that opportunity this time, and I think they're really going to see a very healthy race."

Coady, Riche and Skinner were on this week's On Point panel with Peter Cowan.