Running for the office of councillor in Alberta is the same no matter what town or city you live in. And it is a relatively easy process. Here is how to run for the office of councillor in Alberta:
1. Be Interested in Running for Councillor
This step may seem redundant for people reading this article but it is actually very important. Before you decide to run for council you should make sure it is what you want to do. Go to council meetings beforehand, ask current councillors to sit down for a chat. Read all of the agendas that the current council gets. Do everything you possibly can to make sure that running for the seat of a councillor is in fact what you want.
Even in the smallest municipalities it is an extremely large time commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. So do your research, and make sure it is what you want.
2. Get the Paperwork From Your Municipality
Every municipality has their own way to get the paperwork needed for you to run for council, but it is available. Typically it is available on the town website, under a heading about local governance, or even the election itself. If you are unable to find it I recommend simply going to the town office or city hall.
Receiving these forms is the single most important thing you can do as it allows you to put your name forward. Be prepared though. When you pick up and fill out these forms some municipalities will ask you to fill out a conflict of interest form with it. This means you will have to divulge who your family is, your partner’s family, any companies you own, and any other ties you have to the community that may affect your judgement as a councillor. While this isn’t something you should be scared about it is certainly something to know before you start.
3. Gather Signatures
The next step will be to gather signatures. How many signatures you need will largely depend on your municipality. For most smaller municipalities (such as the one I ran in), the minimum is 5. However, for larger cities, like Calgary or Edmonton, the requirement is 100. All of these people must live in the area you’re running in at the time they sign your papers. They must be over 18, and they must be eligible to vote. Beyond that, there aren’t any restrictions on who can sign. You can have your partner, your parents, or anyone else who you feel like asking.
Note: I would HIGHLY recommend you get more than the bare number by at least 10%. If you need 5, get 8, if you need 100, get 110. Having this little bit of an extra cushion means that if you are elected and any of the signatures are found invalid for any reason you won’t be removed, instead having backups.
4. Pay Your Deposit
Now that your paperwork is all filled out all that is left is to deliver the paperwork to your municipalities election office and pay the deposit. How the deposit works depends on the municipality but as a general rule, it is $100 if you are running for councillor, $500 if you are running for mayor. This deposit is refundable if you get half of the lowest winners’ votes.
For municipalities without wards this means that is the lowest councillor who gets in gets 1000 votes, you need 500 to get in. For cities with wards, this means whichever elected councillor from any Ward gets the least votes you need half. As an example, say you’re running in Ward 1 and the winning councillor gets 15,000 votes, but the Ward 6 councillor wins with 8,000. You as someone running in Ward 1 only need to get 4,000 votes to get your deposit back.
5. Start your Campaign!
The last and by far most exciting step of the whole process! After you have filled out the paperwork to run for the office of councillor in Alberta, you need to actually start your campaign. There are many things you should keep in mind when running a campaign. I break them all down in this article about Tips to Remember When Running for Office. It will involve a lot of work, some money, and a very strong mental health foundation.
If you feel like learning absolutely everything there is to know you need to check out the Local Authorities Election Act. If you have a niche question, or just want to know what the general process is for financing, canvassing, etc. It will have it!
So with everything filled out and your campaign started there is nothing left to say but good luck! Running for office, win or lose, is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Best of luck with your campaign!