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STEVE BARTLETT: The people who want your vote

Tell us what you think about the 2019 federal election.
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One was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army.

Another is a meteorologist and talk show host.

And one wants to bring back the penny.

This is just a quick peek at some of the people vying for votes in Atlantic Canada during this federal election campaign.

Their profiles have been my reading list for the past few weeks.

They include lawyers and labourers, soldiers and songwriters.

Many have already made a difference for people, places, and professions.

Regardless of their experience, motivation or political allegiance, all of them have stepped up to represent your interests in Ottawa.

I’m going to pause there for a second and salute those who’ve tossed their hat in the ring.

That’s not an endorsement, just some appreciation for anyone who’s running. It takes guts.

Because, while it might look like a life of fame and fortune to some, politics is not a glamorous game.

I’ve never run for office but, through journalism, I’ve watched countless municipal, provincial, and federal politicians in action, in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

I've seen them laugh and cry, speak truths and lie.

When things are good, so is the job: funding announcements, glad-handing and broad smiles, passing legislation that makes sense, feeling appreciated and popular.

But when a politician hits a rough patch, they hit a rough patch, particularly if the economy is tanking, you make a mistake, or there’s a perception you’re not doing enough or the wrong thing. Journalists, the opposition, and the people who elected you will hold you to account. They will show no mercy. (In today’s social media-driven world, I sometimes wonder if mercy even exists anymore.)

The pressure mounts when things are going wrong for someone in office. How he or she handles that can make things a little better or much worse.

When the heat is on, everyone puts you under a magnifying glass and hangs on to your every word. If you get defensive or bluff, people will pile on. Even if you say the right thing, many still won’t believe or trust you. It can be a lose-lose situation — reputations ruined and a strain on the family.

...while it might look like a life of fame and fortune to some, politics is not a glamorous game.

Of course, this is when times are bad. Away from the spotlight, being a politician can also be rewarding, like when you help someone access a program that helps put food on the table, or when a community project you lobbied for comes to fruition, or when legislation you helped pass makes something better.

If there was no such satisfaction, we’d have a hard time getting anyone to run. The money is good but only guaranteed for four years. So, somehow, thankfully, the rewards of being in office must outweigh the risks.

We’re about to profile the people offering themselves up for election in our coverage areas. Hopefully, these succinct pieces will provide readers with insight into who they want to represent them, helping lead to informed decisions on Oct. 21.

Steve Bartlett is SaltWire Network’s senior managing editor. Reach him at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.

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