EDITORIAL: Promise only what you can deliver

Too often, municipal candidates vow to achieve things they cannot

Here’s a simple request for candidates seeking election in the upcoming school board and municipal election — only promise what you can deliver.

That might seem like an obvious request, but all too often, candidates vow to achieve things they cannot. Call it exuberance. Call it ignorance. Either way, it doesn’t serve the voter and it disrespects the process. For example, there are some severe limits on what a municipality can do. It must work within provincial legislation that governs its existence.

Likewise, a promise by a school board candidate to hire more teachers won’t happen without an explanation of where the money will come from. School districts cannot, by provincial law, run a deficit.

Which brings up the second point — money. Rarely does a promise come without a cost, and candidates have an obligation to identify what that cost will be.

A promise to double the number of parks in the city, for example, might draw support. But what will it cost to maintain those parks, and what impact will the removal of that land from the tax base have on city finances?

A promise to cut taxes, or at least hold them at zero, must also include details on where the cuts in services will be made (or alternate revenue found)  to accommodate that plan.

None of this is to suggest candidates can’t have ideas or voice creative and imaginative solutions to the problems communities face. But they have an obligation to voters to ensure that what they promise is practical – or even possible.

And we as voters have the responsibility to do the research and ask the tough questions to ensure these lofty ideas have some grounding in reality.

— Chillwack Progress