It is less than nine months until the next round of elections to Canterbury City Council.
Earlier this week, the authority invited those who sit at their keyboards ruminating on council goings on, or poring over the minutiae of its work or just slagging it off to put their money where their mouth is and run for one of its 39 seats.
Some of those might do so, but most will not. They are far more content with looking on from the sidelines.
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And perhaps not without good reason: running for council and – if you win – actually being a councillor is hard work. It’s hard work that some people either believe they can’t do or don’t have the time to.
But as Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding writes in the Canterbury Journal, you’re best placed to affect change by being inside the council than outside it.
Don’t like new housing or sports pitches for youngsters? Get yourself elected to do something about it. Don’t think the council does enough about pollution? Ditto.
Then again, some people with plenty to say are averse to trying to get themselves elected. That’s because in my two decades of watching and writing about local politics, I believe you need two qualities above others to be a councillor.
You need to have guts and you need to have thick skin. You need to have guts to take decisions that some portions of the community aren’t going to like and you need to have thick skin to weather the barrage of criticism you’ll receive for doing so. Some people simply don’t have the former and aren’t prepared to expose themselves to the latter.
Canterbury also suffers from a strange paradox in the sense that many of most interested in the council’s work have absolutely no intention of ever trying to get themselves elected even though they are content to attend numerous meetings and indeed have their say at these meetings.
That being the case, why not try at least to occupy one of those 39 seats available? It’s not a question I’ve ever heard an adequate answer to.
As Dave Wilson rightly argued in the Journal at the end of July, the best councils are those capable of listening to people. We understand this is democratic.
But the reality is that only a minuscule percentage of the population take a regular and active interest in the goings on at the Guildhall.
How democratic is it then for those who do not wish to get elected to tell those who put themselves up for election and win a mandate how to do things?
Overall, if you really care about the district believe you can change it for the better, it’s time to start thinking of running for council.
Whether you choose to do so or not, of course, is an entirely different thing…