Municipal elections and voting
Three weeks from today, we’ll be heading to the polls for the municipal and school board elections and I don’t know what to expect. You see, in our part of the province, people just don’t seem to care about local government. Alright, I can see that look you’re giving me. The one that says, “What are you talking about, we care!”
Look back at 2008. As a group, we don’t. Here’s the voter turnout for local municipalities and towns, from best to worst:
Pictou County: 58.8%
New Glasgow: 46.8%
Hants East: 45.5%
So what can we take from this? It’s been mentioned before, but it bears repeating here: Truro had the lowest turnout in the province and it’s shameful to see a number so low.
Taking things from another point of view, the turnouts in the 2009 provincial election were all above 50%. Pictou County residents turned out the most (64.4%), followed by Cumberland County (58.6%), Colchester County (55.8%), and Hants East (51.9%). The boundaries are a bit different of course, but my point is municipal elections, generally, do not bring out voters.
Even if you’re not interested in politics, the elections October 20th should matter to you. I would argue that municipal politics have the biggest and most immediate impact of any level of government. From taxes, to basic services (even in rural areas), to grants and funding various projects, municipal leaders are the ones driving this change. Sure, there’s a trickle down from the province or the feds, but the men and women who sit around the table in your municipality are the ones best connected to what’s happening.
As we get closer to the election I’ll focus more on some of the bigger issues in play. For now, take a look around and find out who is running in your ward or district. Whether it’s an incumbent or a wide-open race, think about who would best represent you and the kind of change you want to see happen in your community. Every four years we have a chance to make that kind of impact, and I hope this time around people care enough to show up.