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Running for Municipal Office

Thank you for thinking of running for your local municipal council.  Saskatchewan municipalities need citizens like you to assume leadership roles to represent the people in your community or region, and to provide direction on the policies and programs that will lead to better quality services for communities.

Serving in elected positions is not easy, but being a member of council offers a lot of personal satisfaction. The information below will help you decide if you want to run as a candidate for municipal council.


1. How Municipal Government is Structured

Saskatchewan has three types of municipalities:

  • Urban (cities, towns, villages and resort villages)
    The council of an urban municipality has a mayor (elected at large) and at least two councillors. Some urban municipalities are divided into wards and voters elect at least one councillor for each ward.
  • Rural
    Rural municipalities are governed by a council consisting of a reeve and councillors that represent a numbered division within the rural municipality. Members of council are elected to four-year terms.  General elections in rural municipalities are held every two years on a rotational basis. In 2016, general elections will be held for reeves and odd-numbered division councillors. In 2018, elections will be held for even-numbered division councillors.
  • Northern (towns, villages and northern hamlets)
    The council of a northern municipality consists of a mayor and at least two councillors. Northern municipalities hold elections every four years. The election dates vary. Contact the administrator of your municipality for further information.

2. Council Roles and Powers

A municipality is the first “front-line” level of government.  The elected council is the governing body of the municipality.  Elected officials make decisions by passing resolutions, setting policies or enacting bylaws. Bylaws are the laws of the municipality. 

If elected as a member of council, you will have the opportunity to shape the future of your municipality.  If you are running with some kind of reform in mind, you will need to know what bylaws and policies are in place. Examples of local documents you may want to refer to are the meeting minutes, council procedure bylaw, and the zoning bylaw. However, any ideas or proposed changes you have in mind cannot be achieved without the support of other council members.

Council’s Role
Municipal council derives their authority from The Municipalities Act, The Cities Act or The Northern Municipalities Act, 2010.  Council’s main role is to make decisions about the services the municipality provides to its citizens. Council establishes policies about what essential core services to provide, how those services will be delivered and at what levels, such as:
  • Roads and transportation;
  • Water treatment and sewer facilities;
  • Snow and garbage removal;
  • Recreation facilities and programs;
  • Land use planning and economic development;
  • Building code regulations;
  • Crime prevention;
  • Fire prevention;
  • Animal control; and
  • Emergency planning.

The municipal administrator (or administration) is then charged with implementing those policies.  Council relies on the support, advice and assistance of the administration throughout the decision-making process.

Council’s Power

Municipalities have “natural person” powers, with some limitations, and governmental powers, which are those specifically authorized by legislation. Natural person powers mean that a municipality has the same privileges as an ordinary citizen and can take actions not explicitly set out in legislation. Examples of such powers may include entering into contracts, hiring staff and acquiring property.

For more information about the acts governing Saskatchewan’s municipal legislation, visit Publications Saskatchewan


3. Time Commitment

Being elected to your local council means a big time commitment on your part. It's important not to underestimate the amount of time and dedication required to be an effective member of council, especially if you have a full-time job as well.

If elected, you will serve a four-year term.  During that time you should plan to attend the following:

  • Regular and special council meetings;
  • Meetings of council committees;
  • Meetings of other boards and agencies as a representative of council;
  • Conferences, seminars, workshops, and conventions for training and discussion; and
  • Events that promote or represent your municipality.

You may also need to spend a significant amount of time talking to the public, businesses, colleagues in other municipalities, municipal staff and your administrator.  Continuing interaction with these groups is an essential part of making an informed decision as a council member.


4. Running for Municipal Office


It’s not crucial to have education or experience in a government setting to run as a candidate. You likely have skills, knowledge and abilities that are transferable to the elected official’s role.

You may want to undertake a self-assessment of your skills prior to running for elected office.

Think about your:

  • volunteer experience
  • community involvement
  • work experience
  • membership in different organizations
  • family life

Often your experiences have taught you how to:

  • work as part of a team
  • organize and prioritize
  • make decisions
  • debate
  • lead


To be a candidate in your municipal election, you must be:

  • 18 years of age on election day;
  • a Canadian citizen at the time you submit your nomination paper; and
  • eligible to be nominated under relevant guidelines set out in The Local Government Election Act, 2015, or any other Act.
In addition to meeting general requirements, you need to be mindful of specific criteria you must meet depending on the type of municipality in which you are considering running for office. Contact the administrator of your municipality for further information on eligibility criteria.

5. The Nomination Process

After your municipality publishes a “Notice of Call for Nominations”, you can file a nomination using the prescribed form. The municipal administrator, returning officer or city clerk will be able to provide you with that form and advice on filling out the information.  

You must complete all nomination forms in their entirety, including the Candidate’s Acceptance portion, and if required, an accompanying Results of Criminal Record Check for Candidate for Election form and the criminal record check.  You submit your completed form to the returning officer or nomination officer in the municipality.

Urban and rural municipalities have different requirements for signatures on the nomination form depending on the municipality’s population and if it is divided into wards:

Urban Municipalities
In an urban or northern municipality with a population below 20,000 the following applies:

  • If you are running for mayor, your nomination form must be signed by five electors from the municipality at large.
  • If you are running for councillor and the municipality is divided into wards, your nomination form must be signed by five electors in the ward you are considering running in.

In urban municipalities with populations over 20,000 the following applies:

  • If you are running for mayor, your nomination form must be signed by 25 electors from the municipality at large.
  • If you are running for councillor and the municipality is divided into wards, your nomination form must be signed by 25 electors in the ward you are considering running in.
  • If you are running for councillor and the municipality is not divided into wards, your nomination form must be signed by 25 electors from the municipality at large.
  • You must provide a $100 deposit when you submit your nomination form. In certain cases, the deposit may be refunded.
Rural Municipalities
In rural municipalities the following applies:
  • If you are running for reeve, your nomination form must be signed by at least two voters from the municipality at large.
  • If you are running for councillor, your nomination form must be signed by at least two voters from the division you are considering running in.

Deadline to File Nomination Papers

Nomination dates and times are legislated and are as follows:

  • Resort villages – by 2:00 p.m. on the fifth Saturday before election day.
  • Rural and urban municipalities – by 4:00 p.m. on the Wednesday five weeks prior to election day.
  • Northern municipalities – by 4:00 p.m. on the Wednesday five weeks before election day.  As the election day varies, please contact the administrator of your municipality for further information.  

Nomination day for all municipalities is identified in the “Notice of Call for Nominations”. The election official will ensure your nomination form is complete and issue a Receipt of Nomination Paper and Candidate’s Acceptance Form to you.


6. Public Servants Seeking Nomination As A Candidate Or Becoming A Candidate

Municipal Employees

An employee wishing to seek a seat on council needs to refer to Section 43 of The Local Government Election Act, 2015.

Employees should also make note of Section 2-54 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act and its other related provisions.  

Provincial Employees

Refer to Section 2-54 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act  and its other related provisions. 

Federal Employees

Refer to Part 7 of The Public Service Employment Act and its related provisions.

Employees should also make note of Section 2-54 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act and its related provisions.


7. Campaigning for Election

The purpose of campaigning is to convince electors you are the best candidate for the job and it involves talking to people, distributing brochures and posters, and perhaps paid media advertising. 

Rules regarding proper campaign procedures can be found within The Local Government Election Act, 2015 (advertising, canvassing in or near the polling place) and The Controverted Municipal Elections Act (bribery and threats).

Every printed advertisement referencing an election must contain the name and address of the person who has authorized its printing, display and distribution.

No candidate, agent or other person shall canvass or solicit votes in a polling place or within 100 metres of the building where the poll is held and when the polls are open.

You should also check with your municipality, they may have passed a bylaw regarding election contributions and expenditures.


8. Responsibilities Once Elected

If you become a member of a municipal council, you must take an Oath of Office in the prescribed form prior to carrying out any power, duty or function as a member of that council.

Within 30 days of being elected to council, you must complete and sign a Public Disclosure Statement listing your employer, land holdings, business interests and contracts. This statement must be reviewed yearly and updated when required to ensure its accuracy. Your Oath of Office and Public Disclosure Statement are accessible public documents.

All decisions of council must be made at meetings open to the public with a majority of council members present. At these meetings, it is important for council members to listen to each other and collectively reach decisions that are in the best interests of the municipality. An individual member of council, including the mayor or reeve, does not have the authority to commit the municipality to any expenditure or direct the activities of municipal employees.

Conflict of Interest Rules for Council

A conflict of interest occurs when an elected official’s private interests, or a closely connected person’s interests may, or may appear to, be affected by a council decision. A financial interest is always a conflict of interest. If as a council member you think you may have a conflict of interest, you must declare the nature of the interest before any discussion occurs, leave council chambers and not vote or discuss the matter with other council members before, during, or after the matter is being considered or decided.


Council members' individual responsibilities are grouped as follows:

  • Representation and Accountability
    A councillor's responsibility is to serve the people who elected them to office.  A councillor should engage regularly with the public to take into account the views and concerns of all members of a community when voting on matters of concern.
  • Governance
    Municipal council is responsible for shaping the future of the municipality by implementing new policy, by-laws and community goals.  Many decisions that council makes are the result of extensive community consultation, research and advice from community members and groups.  It is important for council to remember that they must represent the people who voted them to office.  Failure to do so may result in a limited term in office.
  • Management
    Members of council are generally responsible for ensuring that municipal staff follows through on the policies, priorities and direction that council has set forth.  Council members should also expect to be active members of committees and boards in the community to ensure that they possess the required knowledge to pass on to council.

If you are elected to office, you will not be starting off from scratch.  There will be local legislation existing in the form of bylaws, which will remain in effect until they are amended or repealed.  In addition, individual members of council are not permitted to make decisions on their own on behalf for the municipality.  Any election promise you made during your campaign can only be carried out if you can convince a majority of council that it is in the best interest of the municipality.

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