Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Election 2013 - Getting My Vote

Ah, October! The temperatures begin to drop, rain that looks suspiciously like snow begins to fall, and every few years you can smell it in the air – election season.
Yesterday on Twitter I posed a question, asking what was the Number One election issue in the minds of the voter. I will post the responses at the end of this post (without names to protect the innocent!), and last night I thought a great deal about the issues that matter to me, and what will get my vote on October 21. I have learned I need to be a bit more circumspect about sharing who I will vote for, as there seems to be some misguided souls who think I may exert influence in this regard. Frankly, I don’t care who you vote for as long as you vote – but I will share the issues that matter to me, and what will have me checking the ballot box in a few short weeks.

1)      Progress: I am not saying here that I think we should be pursuing progress at all costs, or even that all progress is good. I am saying that in my view we must progress and plan for the future, a future that will likely see our community grow in population in an exponential way. I want to see an interest in continuing the progress we have begun to see, and doing so in a collaborative way that engages the community. I fear that if we stall progress, or change direction too radically, that we will never find traction again and we will always find ourselves behind, just as we often do now as we struggle with inadequate infrastructure and services.

2)      Questions: I want those on council to ask questions – and not soft, set-up questions but rather the hard questions, the ones that may even create some conflict. I think constructive conflict is healthy, and I think in a democracy no question should be off limits or too dangerous to ask. I want those who I elect to be asking those questions, and asking them often.

3)      Listening: I want elected officials who listen to their constituents, and who bring their questions and concerns forward to the council chambers. And I want them to be open to those constituents, giving their points careful consideration even if their views differ from their own.

4)      Saying no: I want elected officials who can say no. I don’t want them to say “yes” to every request, and on occasion they may need to say no to things they personally find appealing but that might not represent the greater good and/or be the will of the people. On the other hand they also may need to say yes to things that are contentious and that people do not like. I want them to have the courage to do it.

5)      Responsiveness: I admit it – I’ve been sneaky lately. I have been contacting several of the candidates using various methods (Twitter, Facebook, email), and keeping track of who replied – and who didn’t. As they are campaigning I am watching to see how they respond to voters (of which I am one) and how (and if) they respond when they are contacted. My sense is this: if they don’t respond when they are up for election what are the odds they will respond if elected? I would encourage other voters to do the same, because I think having a sense of that direct link to your potential future representatives is of great value.

6)      Responsibility: I am tired of passing the buck. Many local issues are a complicated web of federal, provincial, and municipal threads, but those who try to deflect responsibility onto another level make me weary. Acknowledge responsibility and how we can improve and you will gain my respect and my vote. I realize some issues belong entirely to another level of government, but even then those issues are often resolved more quickly if all levels work together and don’t turn it into an “us vs. them” scenario.

7)      Get it done: There are some longstanding issues – a long term care facility, for instance – that have been festering for far too long, and they are beginning to cost us dearly. There needs to be a will to get these things done, and one way of doing it is taking responsibility for the things we can do (see Number 6 above). We need a get it done attitude.

8)      Integrity: I want my elected officials to behave with integrity. I am not impressed with fake Twitter accounts and theatrical attacks. I believe (perhaps naively) that all those running for election want what is best for this community as a whole, and I do not respect divisive or personal politicking that tries to demean others who are in the race. Keep it clean, keep it respectful, and remember that at the end of the day when the votes are tallied we are all still going to need to work together. That will be a lot easier to do if everyone still has their integrity intact.
So, there you have it. Eight points that matter to me, and even as I write them I see they are less about “issue” and more about general demeanour and attitude. Perhaps that is because issues can be resolved and we can adjust our direction to do so, but general demeanour and attitude are much harder to change. I also want to acknowledge that it takes courage, resolve, and commitment to run for office, and I think all the candidates brave enough to put their names on the ballot deserve to be commended for that act. I look forward to October 21 when I enter my local polling station to cast my vote, and I hope that thousands of others, far more than our usual abysmal voter turnout, will join me on that day as we elect people. We should never forget, though, that we are not just electing “people” – we are choosing our collective future, and it is a heavy responsibility, especially in a place like this where there are so many decisions to be made, and few of them are easy. Please vote – and please research the candidates, reach out to them, get informed, and think about who you will vote for and why – and then join me on Election Day as we see the future unfold.

Responses from Twitter -
what is your number one issue?
I want a critical voice on council. One that questions the crazy amount of money going out. Can WE really afford it?

increased spending and borrowing limits. Just because we have the ability to spend doesn't mean we should.
why our municipality has no social policy and why they are recruiting across country and else where when we have housing first clients who cannot get jobs
a mind for business bc the city is a business with debits, credits and budgets with a social conscious

1 comment:

  1. People who make the decisions in administration for our Region, that do not even live here.