Estevan is known as a last-minute city, and that trait carried over to this year's civic by-election.
One person filed nomination papers in the first 10 days that the forms could be submitted. That was Mohammad Waseem, who ran for councillor in the 2012 civic election, and was widely expected to enter this by-election.
But in the final three days of the nomination process, four people filed the necessary paperwork: Lynn Chipley, Trevor Knibbs, Rev. Stewart Miller and Marge Young. Like Waseem, they're impressive, articulate candidates who would bring a lot to council if they're elected.
And that's encouraging on a couple fronts.
The first is that there are five people running for council in a by-election. Recent elections have been marked by candidate apathy. In both 2009 and 2012, there was a real threat that councillor candidates would be elected via acclamation. The disturbing possibility was dashed both years with a last-minute influx of papers.
In 2009, there were eight candidates for six council seats. In 2012, there were nine candidates. And while voter turnout was much higher in 2012 than in 2009, thanks to a mayoral election, it was still lower than the numbers seen in 2000 and 2003 civic elections.
Hopefully the presence of these candidates is a sign of public engagement.
We should also be thrilled that five prominent community leaders want to enhance the city. Chipley is a two-term council member who is articulate and passionate about her community, regardless of whether it's as mayor or councillor. Knibbs is a successful business owner who has been involved with a number of different community groups since he arrived in Estevan.
Miller has the intelligence and the communication skills expected from a minister, and has found several ways to serve the community. Waseem made a favourable impression in the last election, and has a keen interest in the political process to match his education in political science. Young is a long-time resident who has made a very positive impact on the region in recent years as the co-chair of the Time to Twin Highways 39 and 6 committee.
There isn't a farcical candidate in the bunch. There isn't somebody running who shouldn't be on the ballot. There isn't somebody who might be better served in a behind-the-scenes capacity.
Hopefully the presence of five strong candidates will generate more interest than typical by-elections, and attract more voters on election day.
Voters who are currently undecided on their preferred candidate will face a difficult decision on election day.
Hopefully, the four candidates who are defeated at the polls won't be discouraged, and they'll consider running for council again in the 2016 election, or for another elected office in the future.