Friday, October 22, 2010

Hey You! Yeah, You. Vote!

This Monday there will be mayoral elections throughout Ontario. This is often perceived as the broken tricycle of elections, because yeah it might be a form of transportation (election) but why use it when you have the sports car (federal elections) and the van (provincial elections). I remember in the last mayoral elections where I was talking to someone and they expressed to me that, "I don't ever vote in the municipal elections, because it doesn't really make a difference since a mayor doesn't really do much." Of course, this very same person then complains about the high property tax in this city, claims they never go downtown because there isn't anything for them, and remarks how it is unfortunate the unemployment rate is so high in this city. This makes me wonder how they think those things are going to be improved? I've tried out numerous of the sticks in my and their backyards, and none are magical wands that fix problems. So, it seems like another approach must be taken. If only there was a way for our voice to be heard in the city, and maybe someone we could have address our problems to, then have them put actions in place to fix these problems. Oh wait, that would be our mayor and council members. Hmmm. . . maybe voting in the municipal election is important after all,

I can understand why city elections are so poorly attended. The federal and provincial elections get far more attention considering they have far larger budgets to advertise their platforms. The issues discussed at the federal and provincial elections are clearly broader in scope, and are about laws and policies that effects a much larger group of people. When it comes down to the municipal elections unless you live in Toronto or a major city, then the major media outlets pay absolutely no attention to you (and I am not saying they should). Essentially, the issues being addressed at a municipal election can only be known if you read the local papers or watch the local community television channel. If you live in a small city, then there is a good chance that you're rarely aware you even have a community television channel (and Brantford does, by the way), or are more interested in reading a big city paper over the local paper (Brantford has only had the Expositor for over 150 years -- I can see how you would miss it). The fact is, that for many people the news and events in the big cities are far more sexy and captivating; many people largely fail to see the importance of a small city election. I don't have statistics with me, but I'd guess big city mayoral elections are far better attended than some in smaller cities. I think, this is due to visiblity and coverage of the campaigns and platforms available during the election.

The fact is, the municipal election is very important, and the council and mayor can make major decisions that effect your city. It is important to get a person that you feel is qualified for the job, and will do the things you know will positively effect your city (or town or county or village). It is true that CTV or CityTV or the Star is probably not covering the campaigns, if you don't live in Toronto (or Hamilton or other large locations), but that deifnitely doesn't mean there isn't information and news available to make you informed. We luckily live in an age where information is more accessible than ever before. There is a good chance that most of your candidates have websites. There is also a really good chance your local newspaper has a website that will have coverages of debates or meetings. And if you have cable, there is likely a community channel that has a lot of footage of the campaigns. You can be informed, and you definitely should be. In the best case scenario, your vote can help lead to a positive change to your city. In the worst case scenario, you're now justified in any complaining you unleash over the next four years. The most important thing is that you are allowing your voice be heard and trying to promote democracy (and the voice of the people) in your city.

I initially wanted to do a large overview of the candidates for mayor in Brantford and councilors for my ward (Ward 1). I was then going to offer who I was planning to vote for. In the end, I decided that only a small portion of my readers would be involved in the Brantford elections, and I'd rather encourage Brantfordians to read the information for their self and come to their own conclusion for who is best suited for Brantford. I do want you to vote, especially if your from Brantford. This city has traditionally had a really poor turn out, and right now, Brantford really needs citizens to get their voices heard. This is a city that is truly at a turning point, but it is undecided if it will be turning in a positive or negative direction. The potential for this city is immeasurable, and now, it is just a matter of getting the right people to help steer this ship (to follow that metaphor, with a captain that will listen to his crew throughout the voyage).

I have been able to narrow it down to a few candidates, and I definitely know a few that I don't want. I'd rather not concentrate on the negatives, and rather focus on the things I want in my mayor. I want someone who isn't a career politician, but able to bring some fresh perspective (Brantford has had enough of the aging and decaying). I want someone who recognizes the value in a vibrant arts and cultures scene. I want someone who recgonizes that our downtown is more than just a univeristy centre; there is actually many people in this city that are long past graduation from post secondary. I want a leader who has clear strategies for lowering our property tax rather than someone who just has the empty promise. I want someone who has plans to attack the unemployment rate in this city, and has very distinct strategies, such creating job skill training programs or ways of bringing in business. I want a person who knows that injunctions are an awful way of fixing relations with Six Nations; the First Nation people deserve to be a part of the decisions being made with their land (along with compensation). I want someone who realizes that even though Brantford is a marvelous city, that what has been happening for the last several years hasn't been working and it is time for huge overhauls.

You may want completely different things. The only way to even get a chance at seeing them realized is to vote Monday. Do your part, and have your voice heard.

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