August 16, 2013 5 Comments
I’ve written before about the importance of voting, and I’m doing it again.
Calgary heads to the polls on Monday, October 21 to elect city council and school board trustees.
The last Calgary election was in 2010 where we elected our famous Mayor Nenshi (full disclosure: I’ve always been a fan of the Purple Wave).
The 2010 municipal election had an interesting race for the Mayor’s seat and voter turnout was 53%, which sounds sad, but is actually a huge improvement. In 2007 voter turnout was 33%. In 2004 it was 18%. EIGHTEEN PERCENT. Pathetic.
Pollsters say that voter turnout plummets when there isn’t an interesting race for mayor, which may turn out to be the case this year, since no one has decided to challenge Mayor Nenshi (yet – the deadline for nominations isn’t until September 23, though, so that could still change).
But in Calgary, that lack of attention just silly. There are 15 seats on city council – the Mayor is one of 15 votes. To get something done, 7 other city councillors would need to agree with him. Or any group of 8 councillors can get something passed (or stalled). So even if the mayoral race isn’t interesting, Calgarians need to pay close attention to their Ward races, too, especially noting the Ward 1 and 2 Aldermen are retiring. (Click here for Ward information.)
Federal and provincial elections often get much more attention from voters, but I think it’s downright stupid to forego the municipal election. I’ve heard people say they don’t notice much change in their lives as the Prime Minister’s office changes between parties, but that’s not the case with city government. Municipal politics directly affect everyone’s day to day lives, including things like:
- snow ploughs (very important in Calgary and a common thing to complain about!)
- transit: routes, budgets, infrastructure maintenance
- property taxes and budget surplusses
- essential services (police, fire)
- school board governance
- emergency response, like when a giant flood takes your city by surprise, for example
- garbage and recycling pick up and curb-side composting
- residential speed limits, school zones, playground zones
- city parks, their maintenance, locations, and rules
- even the placement of crosswalks and the repair of streetlights
- business and construction licences
- social issues like shark fin and retail pet sale bans, smoking bylaws
- hot button issues like bridges, secondary suites, airport tunnels and ring roads
- animal bylaws: from dog and cat licenses, to impounded and adoptable animals, to dangerous dog assessments
- other bylaws: neighbours annoying you with their noise/messy lawn/grow-op? The city helps you with that.
- city festivals like Canada Day fireworks and the Stampede Parade
- road building and maintenance: if someone wants to bulldoze your house to put in an overpass, your city councillor is your representative for that
- lots of other things not listed here
So from your daily commute to taking out the garbage to building a new garage on your property, you can see how city government impacts day to day life.
Which is why it’s important to vote!
You have 65 days, Calgary, to research your candidates and make a decision.
Full election information can be found on the city’s website here.
All candidate information will be official after Nomination Day, on September 24, but you can already see candidates getting their names out there and knocking on doors. Put them to the test! Tweet them, Facebook them, call them up, get involved and tell them what’s important to you! Find out whose platform you agree with and throw up a lawn sign if you want!
Election Day is October 21.
Or, if you’re a keener like me, the advance polls are October 9-13, 15, and 16 (I always go to advance polls – the lines are shorter). You can also mail in your ballot if needed.
Get on it, Calgary! This is important!
And if you need a little extra help, Mayor Nenshi has set up a Vote Pledge – just sign up and get emailed election information and reminders.