Sunday, January 29, 2012
Your Vote Is Your Voice
Well, last week was a crazy one in Fort McMurray. I attended a change lab, a summit, a meeting between local seniors and provincial cabinet ministers, and three days of a conference, all of which will be detailed in further posts this week. My week ended on a particularly high note, though, and one which I think bodes very well for the future of Fort McMurray - so I am going to start there.
Yesterday the PC party held their nomination vote for the riding of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. As you may know the provincial government has divided our region into two ridings, and so we have the new opportunity to send two MLAs to Edmonton to represent us. The riding of Fort McMurray-Conklin did not require a nomination vote as city councillor, local lawyer, and my friend Don Scott was acclaimed the PC candidate on January 16th when he was unopposed in his decision to seek the nod in that riding. The other riding, though, became hotly contested when four individuals decided to seek the nomination, and so yesterday was voting day for PC party members.
The four candidates are all impressive individuals, and over the last few weeks I've had the opportunity to get to know all of them a bit better. Mike Allen, small business owner and city councillor, is someone I have admired for some time. Jeff Thompson, chair of the public school board of trustees, has this huge personality and great ideas. Nick Sanders, member of the MacDonald Island board and Chamber of Commerce board, is a fabulous example of someone who immigrated to Canada and embraced his new home country (and he's a terrific guy to boot, too). And Andrew Highfield works in perhaps the most challenging, rewarding, and important field - education (he's a teacher at Holy Trinity). Every single one of these individuals could represent our region well, I think, and I've come to respect every single one - but I admit that I was delighted when it was announced that my friend Mike Allen had won the nomination and will be the candidate in my home riding of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo.
Over the past few months I've had the chance to spend a lot of time with both Don Scott and Mike Allen. I've come to know them as people of integrity, character, and true commitment to our community. I've come to believe in them as individuals - and as leaders. And I've come to firmly believe that they represent the best chance for our region to be heard in the provincial legislature, and that they will represent us well given the opportunity.
I have faced some questions recently about my public display of support for specific individuals. I can only say that I have never claimed to be impartial, to write as a journalist, or to be a woman without opinions. When I write this blog I am as honest as I can be, and part of that honesty is telling you what I think is best for our community - and I think Don and Mike are it, people. You might disagree, and I respect that as I welcome discourse and I firmly believe in democracy, too. I suppose what matters most to me, though, is seeing members of our community being actively engaged in politics. I would love nothing more than to see the next provincial election see our highest voter turnout ever - regardless of the name those voters happen to put their "X" beside. I want to see our entire community get passionate about politics, discuss the issues, campaign for those they believe in, and head to the polls on election day.
I am looking forward to the next few weeks with great anticipation as I am proud to call both Don and Mike my friend, and because I am thrilled with the chance to send these two to Edmonton to represent us. I also want to congratulate Jeff, Nick, and Andrew for seeking the nomination - it takes a leap of faith to put yourself out there that way, and I am proud to have them in my community (and I know that each of them will continue to contribute to Fort Mac and make it a better place, too). I congratulate both Don and Mike as they embark on this new journey, and I am delighted to share a small part of this journey with them.
As for you, Fort Mac - this is your chance. Get involved. Get educated. Get passionate, and get political. We have an opportunity with this next provincial election to have our voices heard. Make sure your voice is one of them, people. The future rests on all of us, and we have a responsibility to it, and to our community. I'm pretty sure by now you all know where my vote will be. Now, how about yours?