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Democracy inaction

 

We are coming up to a municipal election. Albertans tend to ignore these and it is to the detriment of democracy. Here are some reasons you should be paying attention and voting in these municipal elections.

Too often voters complain that their vote is wasted. Well, municipal elections give you the most bang for your buck. There are the fewest voters in municipal districts so your vote counts more percentagewise than any other election (other than candidate selection). Add to this that we tend to have the lowest turnouts and your vote has even bigger bang.

Municipal elections aren’t that important. Wrong. While local governments don’t set the long-reaching policies that provincial and federal governments do, municipal governments do have a lot to say in where and how your tax dollars are spent locally.  Furthermore, local politicians often use this as a stepping stone to higher levels of politics.  This is a chance to support/influence future provincial and federal politicians. This, in and of itself, is a very important reason to be involved.

This is not just town and county elections. It is also school board elections. As you know, school taxes are a large part of municipal taxes. This alone should spark some interest.  If you don’t like how our education system is run, here is your chance to have a say.  If you don’t like how your taxes are being spent, here is a chance to have your say. Or, if you support the current system, get out and support it.

If you have political aspirations, municipal elections are the best place to start. You need the least amount of money and organization. Name recognition may be all you need.

Municipal elections are about community. It is local politics, local issues, and local people.

So, how are we affected by municipal elections? There have been projects that have been joint town and county shared. This is a good thing. One good example is the Allan & Jean Millar Center. The costs were shared by both jurisdictions. Another project was the town water line to the airport. One of the things we need to look at is how the costs were shared and who benefited the most, especially in these times of economic difficulty.

Two more projects on the horizon is the takeover of the golf course from the county by the town. How will transfer of tax base and property be down such that it is a win/win?  How long before the town also wants control of the airport? Or, will the town just reap most of the benefits while the county pays most of the costs.

So, you see, it is important to know what is going on locally and to have your say in it. If you don’t, then you are giving up your power and your control to others who probably don’t have your interests at heart.

On top of all that, getting involved in local politics is a great way to give back to your community. Get involved, get informed, and get out and vote! Instead of democracy inaction, be part of democracy in action!

Eugene Eklund

Whitecourt, AB

 

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