By Jud Pearson
EDITOR'S NOTE: There will be an important new twist when Truro residents go to the polls in October's municipal election. They can make their selections online. To keep the electorate informed, returning officer Jud Pearson is presenting a monthly column leading up to election day.
In my last article I gave you a historical picture of what elections were like in the past and a glimpse of what they will be like this time.
Elections are important to the lifeblood of the town, because they allow its people to decide who will look after their affairs for the next four years. The obvious most important component of this process are the people who become candidates and then, ultimately, the town's representative.
Have you ever thought about serving your town on the council or school board, or even as mayor? Do you know what the qualifications are for these offices?
If the answer to the second question is no, here are the answers:
• You must be a Canadian citizen and 18 years of age at the time of nomination.
• You must be a resident in Truro at least six months prior to nomination day.
• You must have a certificate from the town office stating that you owe no municipal taxes.
• You are not a town employee, unless you are willing to take a leave of absence.
So, let's say you've decided that this is a good opportunity for you to serve, when should you get started?
Nomination day is not until Sept. 11, but that doesn't mean you should wait until then to get your campaign underway. Experience shows that the early bird really does get the worm.
It is perfectly all right, in fact advisable, to start campaigning before your official nomination. Be advised, though, that you are required to have an official agent appointed before you can collect any funds toward your campaign. You can perform this function yourself, but you must file the appropriate forms at the returning office.
The province has prepared a Candidate's Handbook outlining the election procedures and the roles and responsibilities of elected officials. It is available in print at the returning office, or online at http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/election/candidate.asp.
There is also a great deal of information available from http://www.ns-municipal-elections.ca/.
The official nomination day is Sept. 11, but you may also meet with me (by appointment) sometime during the preceding five business days (Sept. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10).
At the time of your filing of the necessary forms, you become an officially nominated candidate. From then on, it is crucial that you follow the regulations and advice in the Candidate's Handbook referring to such matters as advertising, sign placement, fundraising and the like.
Candidates in this election will have access to campaign tools unavailable previously. The election period will run continuously from noon on Oct. 11 until polls close at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20. Candidates will be able to continuously monitor voter turnout, which should enable them to campaign more smoothly and efficiently.
As they make their rounds through the neighbourhoods in their wards, they will be able to simply consult their laptops or smartphones to determine whether the person at each address has already voted or not. This will save them much time and effort.
It also will be unnecessary for them to have agents at polling stations; voter tracking will be available in real time electronically.
So, my advice to prospective candidates is to get started early by going through the Candidate's Handbook, making your decision to run and getting your campaign underway.
If you need any help, please contact the returning office at by clicking email@example.com, or by calling 893-6084 or 1-800-893-6084.
Welcome to 2012, the electronic age.
Jud Pearson, the returning officer for the Town of Truro, is a lifelong resident of Truro.