Electoral officer urges more candidacy

Too many positions in municipal elections are going uncontested, says the province's chief electoral officer, who is travelling the province, trying to stir up more interest in the spring municipal election.

The province's chief electoral officer is starting a provincewide tour, drumming up interest in the May municipal elections.

Michael Quinn used a Sussex speech on Monday to outline his concerns over how too many positions in municipal elections are going uncontested.

In 2008, Quinn said, 53 mayors were appointed by acclamation. Further, 110 councillors were also acclaimed, along with 85 seats on district education councils.

Most of those positions were in the province's smaller towns and villages, said Quinn.

"In the smaller locations there aren't enough people, relatively, with the interest and the time to do it, because it takes a lot of time," he said.

Still, Quinn started a provincial tour in Sussex Monday, trying to stir up more interest in the spring municipal elections.

"When there are acclamations, that's fine, but the democratic process is served much better when there's a selection," he said, noting such positions affect the every day life of New Brunswickers.

On May 14, voters will cast ballots for mayors, councillors and representatives on various district education councils.

Voter turnout tends to be higher when there is a contest between candidates, said Quinn, whose first visit was at the Sussex Rotary Club.

Sussex Mayor Ralph Carr said he agrees that heated contests will drive up higher participation levels.

"It generates interest, and people will go out and vote," he said.

"And also people talk to each other. A candidate will encourage other people to go and talk to somebody else."

Nominations for all positions in the province open on March 24.

Anyone who is interested in running needs to start thinking about it now, said Quinn.