Sometimes it is not clear what our elected representatives do or why they are necessary. This page offers some insight into these questions. We reached out to some sitting and former politicians and asked them about their experiences.
Some of the politicians we contacted offered individual accounts they had put together in the past:
There is also a good Civics 101 recording put on by Communitech that featured past Regional Chair Ken Seiling.
If you have other accounts, or if you are/were a sitting politician and would like to add your experiences, contact us.
Some people are tapped on the shoulder. They participate in municipal government in other ways (as staff, or on citizen’s committees) and other people ask them to run.
Some people are inspired to run by civic engagement groups. In this election, several candidates ran after attending the Waterloo Region Women’s Municipal Campaign School workshops.
Some people become politically actve because a municipal issue affects them personally.
Many people are driven to run for office out of a sense of public service.
Some officials say that they enjoy getting positive results for the constituents they advocate for. Others appreciate seeing improvements in their communities because of good decision-making by their councils.
Serving as an elected official means balancing competing interests, and the nature of the job means that politicians cannot please everybody. With social media, the pressure has gotten intense.
In addition, elected officials get frustrated when the press misrepresents their statements or actions.
It depends on the position. In general elected officials set direction and policies, while non-elected staff figure out the details and implement the policies.
Many elected officials also manage budgets.
Regional and area municipal politicians sit on various steering committees within their level of government.
Almost all municipal politicians and school board trustees interact with the public and address their concerns.
Mayoral positions in the three cities are considered full-time jobs, as-is the Regional Chair. Other positions are not. Many elected officials hold other jobs in addition to their offices.
For context, according to the New Hamburg Independent the Mayor of Wilmot earned $28 222, and ward councillors earned $14 112.
Some elected officials wish residents understood that politicians are regular people carrying out public service.