Can you name your current school board trustee? What about your city councilor? Heck, do you even know what ward you live in? Well for some, the deafening silence you’re experiencing is not uncommon, especially if you look at voter turnout for municipal elections. However, come October 16, the fate of Calgary’s mayor and city council will be decided!
On September 19, 2017, the race officially began, and candidates were on the campaign trail with their Nomination Papers officially filed. Many may wonder aloud why they should vote in a municipal election and what difference do these folks make in our lives. The truth is the candidate that gets elected for mayor and candidates who are elected to city council and school board trustees are responsible for deciding major issues that impact your day-to-day lives. Think about the city’s snow removal program, the implementation of the green bins and the cycle track to name a few. City council plays a critical role in how our city runs.
Voting is all of our responsibility, but it is also our privilege to vote and have the opportunity to determine who leads our city, our province and our country. The last few years have presented case studies on what happens when people stay home and choose not to vote: from Brexit, the minority government leading British Columbia and the recent election down South that had many fearing for their basic rights. The notion that voting doesn’t make a difference needs to end because it continues to be shown that not voting is what makes the difference.
We live in a Canada where we don’t fear losing our right to vote or our right to freedom of speech, and to an extent, it seems that we have taken these rights for granted. Consider this, in Calgary’s 2013 municipal election voter turnout was 39 per cent compared to 53 per cent in 2010. So in 2013, that means more than 700,000 Calgarian’s stayed home and chose not to vote. These numbers are shocking and frustrating when you consider how critical voting is to issues like homelessness, affordable housing, and poverty.
The City of Calgary is determined to see a higher voter turnout and is implementing new tactics to make voting easier and more accessible for all Calgarians. There is a Meet the Candidates page easily accessible on the City’s website, there is information on which Ward your home is in and details on who is running for the school board. The City is appealing to the younger generations with a ‘selfie wall’ and to those on the go with a drive-up voting booth.
A phrase often used around the walls of YW is that voting is a poverty reduction strategy. We know that when we vote, we have a direct influence on how poverty is addressed in this city and how gender equity and diversity are reflected on city council. We believe is it our responsibility to vote to ensure we can have an impact on issues that affect women.
So this election, we urge you to get out there and vote. Make an impact and have a say in our city is shaped.
If you require more information on candidates check out the following websites: