Local authority elections are still going ahead in April despite the circuit breaker lockdown.
Due to take place April 22, it means candidates standing in the Isle of Man’s 20 boards of commissioners and Douglas Council won’t be able to campaign for their seats in person, door-to-door until after March 23.
This gives them only three weeks to do so.
Following Douglas Council’s resolution and agreement from Tynwald to reduce the number of councillors from 18 to 12 and the number of wards from six to four with effect from April 22, there will be 12 seats up for grabs on Douglas council, divided between the four wards of Douglas: Central, East, North and South.
A councillor standing for Douglas East, Devon Watson, said: ’There are a few concerns. If we come out of lockdown in three or four weeks from now, there will only be about two or three weeks to campaign before getting out which means each individual candidate could be a spreader of the virus going from door-to-door.
’Even someone putting leaflets through the door could spread it and could be very, very bad.
’Secondly, it’s very likely that the elections themselves would have a lower turnout than they usually do, given the fact that people may be concerned with ongoing restrictions.’
Mr Watson also said that people registered to vote in the election who are unable to see campaigns via social media will be cut-off and alienated.
He said: ’If absolutely everybody runs campaigns online, in the absence of door-to-door campaigning, this means that people who aren’t connected to social media are cut-off from the democratic process, which is not only extremely discriminatory to those who are not on social media, but it also means that our political conversation is going to change, probably for the worse.
’It will be a very crowded space - we might have over 25 people campaigning on competing adverts - which will be chaotic. There’s no way of printing thousands of pounds worth of campaign material if we aren’t sure of a venue or a date.’
To stand as a Douglas councillor you must be on the January 1 2020 electoral register.
Douglas Council leader David Christian said: ’To stand in this local election is a unique opportunity to be at the beginning of a new, more entrepreneurial democratic process to deliver for Douglas.
’You will have a shared responsibility with your fellow members for the wide range of services Douglas Council provides, as well as for operating within and scrutinising committee budgets and developing policies.’
Commissioners and councillors are not paid. It is a voluntary position. They can, however, get an attendance allowance.
Port St Mary Commissioners are asking people to stand in the village. There are seven positions on the board.
’You can have an immediate effect on the residents and life of the village,’ the authority says.
Local authorities are responsible for refuse collections, parks, beach cleaning, public sector housing, street lights and civic events.
They charge rates to pay for it.
In the past Douglas Council had more responsibilities but over the years it has handed its roles in running buses, the Villa Marina, the horse trams and water to government.
Further information about standing in the local authority elections is on www.gov.im.