COMMEN-TERRY: Don’t just vote, make an educated choice

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For a community newspaper, there is little that brings more excitement – and chaos – to the newsroom than elections, particularly civic elections.

Seemingly every other phone call and email has something to do with the upcoming vote.

From a journalist’s perspective, it’s a trying time, to be sure, but an exciting one.

From a citizen’s standpoint, elections always amaze me, particularly at the municipal level.

I’ve always believed that municipal elections affect residents more intimately than either provincial or federal elections, because the decisions at the municipal level are more likely to affect my day-to-day life – from when the garbage is picked up, to noise bylaws, to when I can water my lawn.

What amazes me, then, is the lack of interest in most municipal elections.

Less than 29 per cent of eligible voters decided the winner in Courtenay in 2011. I’ve seen higher voter turnout numbers in towns where the mayor was acclaimed.

There are two common responses from those who choose not to vote:

“It won’t make a difference” or “I don’t follow politics, and an uneducated vote is worse than no vote at all.”

Addressing the first comment, if you really believe it won’t make a difference, let me point my laser to the City of Toronto. Half the eligible voters in that city can consider themselves directly responsible for the train-wreck of a mayor they have had for the past three years, because they chose not to vote.

As for the uneducated vote, the response is simple: get educated. It’s not like the resources are hard to find. With all the online information now, it really is a click of the mouse away.

In today’s paper, we are running the third of our four candidate sections. If you read our paper, by now you have been introduced to every candidate in Cumberland, Comox and Courtenay. The CVRD candidates will be in Thursday’s paper. There you go. All right there, for you to compare notes.

We also have all the info online at www.comoxvalleyrecord.com. One click of the “election! 2014” logo on the right side of the page will bring you to whichever constituency you so choose.

In Comox, there will be an all-candidates meeting on Nov. 3 that you can watch from your own home, as My Tech Guys will be streamlining the entire two-hour meeting at www.mytechguys.ca

There really is no reason to be uneducated, unless you want to be.

The scary thing is that some electoral districts, such as Comox, actually believe there are enough people who make uneducated votes that being first on the ballot is a contentious issue. It’s enough of one, in fact, that rather than  the typical alphabetical order, Comox holds a draw to see whose name will appear first.

While I have no doubt that it was someone with a last name like Zalinski who first petitioned for this draw format, I don’t necessarily disagree with the argument.

Scary indeed.

Do all of us a favour and vote, but don’t vote blindly. Educate yourself. Pay attention for the next four weeks.

Who has knocked at your door? Who has called you asking for support? Who has done the grunt work? Remember, that when it comes to representing you, the ones who are most likely to do a good job of that are the ones who know what you want, and they won’t know that without listening to you.

When they knock, or call, ask questions. Find out where they stand on issues like homelessness, development, and bike lanes.

All the candidates have offered  their contact info. Use this. Let them answer the questions you have, then make a decision. But please, make a decision. Do not let 29 per cent of the population decide the next four years on your behalf.

Terry Farrell is the editor of the

 

Comox Valley Record

 

 

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