Questions to Ask Municipal Election Candidates

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| Published , updated January 18, 2024

Here are questions we’ve collected over time from candidate interviews, surveys and email conversations which can be used as a reference or as inspiration when asking your local candidates or elected officials about their stances on issues or action plans to address them.

If you do end up contacting your local candidates to ask questions, please consider sending us their responses so we can publish them anonymously on this website.

That way, instead of being buried in your email archives, other members of your community can see their response and benefit from the insight provided by their answers. In addition, the candidate won’t have to answer that same question as many times as they would otherwise, saving them time and allowing them to focus on answering other questions or developing their platform.

Motivations and path to politics

  • Why are you running for council/mayor?
  • What made you want to run in this municipal election?
  • What first prompted you to run for council?
  • Why do you want to be a councillor/mayor?
  • Why do you want to lead [municipality] as councillor/mayor?
  • What led you to running for councillor/mayor?
  • Who encouraged you to run?
  • Were you recruited to run for office?
  • When/how did you decide to run?
  • How would you describe your personal political ideology and/or affiliation?

Experience

  • What previous political experience do you have?
  • What did you do before running for member of council?
  • How have you been involved in the community?
  • What would you say is the job description/purpose of a council member?

Priorities

  • What is the most pressing issue in your ward/district?
  • What is the most pressing issue in all of [municipality]?
  • What is the number one issue you want to address during this term of council?
  • What are the three most common issues voters are bringing up to you as you campaign?
  • What do you consider the most pressing issues for [ward/district]? For the [municipality] at large?
  • What are your top [#] issues?
  • What needs improvement in your ward/district?
  • If you are elected, what are your immediate priorities?
  • What do you hope to accomplish as [position]?
  • If elected, what do you plan to accomplish in your first 100 days?

Issues

  • How will you go about addressing [Issue #1]?
  • How will you measure success regarding [Issue #1]?

Climate Change

  • How will your platform help fight climate change in [municipality]?

Diversity

  • How will you embrace and champion diversity in this role?

Electoral System

  • Would you vote in favour of moving forward with a ranked ballot?

Growth

  • What do you think is the best way to handle [municipality]’s growth?

Transportation

  • How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our municipality? How will you make it so residents can affordably get where they need to go?
  • What would be your priorities for investments in improving street safety and connectivity for residents? How would you fund these priorities?
  • What are the most important things that need to happen to accommodate increased numbers of people requiring mobility as our region is expected to grow?
  • What changes do you foresee to land-use and zoning and how might these changes impact our ability to support current residents and enable new residents to live, work and play in our municipality?
  • How will you make our transportation network more accessible to everyone in all seasons?

Road safety

  • How will you make it safer for my kids to walk or bike to school?
  • How will you make it safer for me to walk or bike to the store?
  • What is your opinion on lowering speed limits?
  • What are your ideas for a safe and equitable transit system?

Arts

  • Do you think art and culture add value to [municipality]? How does it contribute?
  • What are the most important ways the [municipality] can engage with arts and culture through strategic planning, policy, investment, programming, etc.? 
  • Do you support continued funding for arts and culture in the municipal budget?
  • Can the arts community count on you to be an advocate at Council in the future?

Why them

  • What do you feel sets you apart from the other candidates?
  • Why should constituents vote for you?
  • Why do you feel you should represent [ward/district]?

Hypothetical

  • If you received a one million dollar grant to use for the municipality any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

Performance

  • How will you measure success?
  • What are your key performance indicators for the next 4 years?

Other interview questions

  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?
  • How would you describe your leadership style?
  • Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced, and how you dealt with it.
  • Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
  • What’s a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work?
  • Can you tell me a situation when you made a mistake and what you learned from it?
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • How do you motivate people?
  • Tell me about a time you led by example.
  • How do you handle conflict between team members?
  • Has there ever been a time when you’ve had to do something at work because of a policy that went against your values?
  • Provide an example of a time when you provided a customer with excellent customer service. How did the client react?
  • How do you delegate responsibilities?

Questions for school board trustees

  • Why are you running for trustee?
  • How would you lobby the provincial government to increase funding levels for elementary education?
  • Do you believe that teachers should have the right to strike? Explain.
  • Describe your understanding of the extent and nature of classroom violence in Halton and Ontario schools. What role can trustees play in addressing the issue of violence in the classroom?
  • What is your position on corporate involvement in public education?
  • What role should school fundraising play in supporting schools? How would you address the issue of have and have-not schools?
  • Do you support the funding of private schools? Please explain.
  • What would you do to promote different forms of transportation for students?

Over to you

What other questions would you want asked of your candidates or elected officials? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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