By Stephen Dafoe
“They’re all the same, these politicians. They make promises and then don’t keep them. So my vote really doesn’t matter. Besides, I simply don’t follow it all and really don’t know who stands for what.”
Perhaps you have said this. Perhaps you have thought this. Perhaps you truly believe this to be the case. Perhaps you are merely using it as an excuse not to do the homework necessary to ask yourself what is important to you as a voter and member of this community.
Many of us remain blissfully ignorant of what is going on in the community, basing our assumptions on opinion rather than fact, belief rather than truth, hearsay rather than first-hand information.
It would be easy to ramble on about voter apathy or use tired clichés about how your vote is the cornerstone of democracy. But it would be pointless. You’ll either vote or not, inform yourself or not, participate in the future of your community or not.
There are so many alternatives to taking five or ten minutes a day educating ourselves as to the issues and what the candidates plan to do about them. Many of us are busy playing Farmville, Mafia Wars or signing yet another FaceBook petition to stop some outrage in a country that doesn’t even allow FaceBook. Of course, there are always another dozen funny videos of a monkey smoking a hookah while playing a xylophone to watch or the pressing needs of finding out what Snooki’s latest thought is on Twitter.
There is exactly one week left until Election Day and 15 citizens of this community have stepped forward to run for various public offices.
Since Nomination Day we have asked each what their motivation for doing so was and what they felt was important to this community that they would like to address as councillor, mayor or trustee. We’ve published those answers as an opportunity to inform the voters of this community as to what their options are. We’ve published your questions to candidates and the answers of those candidates who have taken the time to reply. We’ve filmed and published the speeches of those candidates who attended last week’s Chamber luncheon and we will be co-sponsoring a public forum Wednesday night at Smith Music to give you another opportunity to hear, ask and learn. We’ve also run – free of charge – guest editorials from those candidates who took us up on our offer to publish their platforms, and we will continue to publish them as they are received until just before the election.
In 2007 Morinville did not have an election because there were not enough people interested in municipal service to force one. Morinville residents were given no choice as to who would speak for them. This time is different, a lot different.
There are three orders of government in this country: federal, provincial and municipal. We believe municipal is the most important of the three because it is the one closest to the people. Your MP or MLA may be deeply in touch with the community they represent, but they may not live in that community or be a part of that community on a regular basis, ribbon cuttings and government grant cheque presentation photo ops aside.
Municipal government is different. The people running for council, mayor and school trustee are your neighbours, the owners or employees of the businesses at which you shop or the people seated next to you at a hockey game or other community event. They drive on the same streets you do, flush their toilets into the same sewer system that you do and pay their property taxes to the same municipality that you do. And although no two candidates will stand side by side on all issues, they are often as affected by the decisions they will make in council chambers or on the school board as you will be.
It is incumbent on all of us to take the time necessary to find out what each stands for and to use that information to vote for those we feel best able to represent us in council chambers and on the school board.
You have a week left and you are already at the one news source in Morinville that has given you the tools you need to do that home work.
Let’s get cracking.