Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Municipal Election is Just a Month Away, Be Prepared!

Four years can certainly fly by, and it might be hard to believe, but with council’s four year term nearing its end, another municipal election is on our doorstep.

Though it might feel like just yesterday, four full years have passed since the last Municipal Election Guide issue of our paper was on store shelves.

We are facing another municipal election on October 24, and we are hoping our Municipal Election Guide issue with full profiles of all 15 candidates, in stores now and in subscriber mailboxes on Friday, will be helpful to our readers as they decide who will get their votes next month.

Long-time readers will know that this newspaper doesn’t take part in the long tradition of endorsing candidates, so don’t expect an October article outlining our preferred candidates. Instead, our goal has always been to give our readers as much information as possible and let them decide for themselves whom they want to support.

That said, when I am looking for candidates who will get my vote, I am looking for community oriented folks, with a strong emphasis on tackling the massive infrastructure funding deficit, and finding creative ways to address critical infrastructure repair and rehabilitation needs.

With mayoral candidates I am most concerned with feeling confident that an elected mayor can work well with the other members of council, and to bring them together when necessary.

Many forget, or simply don’t realize, that under our governance system, a municipal mayor is but one vote on council. Meaford’s council has seven members and the mayor’s vote holds no more value or sway than the other members of council, so be leery of mayoral candidates promising the moon, as they will almost certainly not be able to deliver on those promises, particularly if they don’t have, at the very least, three other members of council voting with them.

I am looking for candidates who will concede that perhaps we as a society have been living beyond our means, and we might need to find ways to re-think our true infrastructure needs even if that might mean closing a bridge or two or reverting to gravel on some lesser-travelled rural roads.

While it might seem like it sometimes, when it comes to municipal concerns I’m not a one-trick pony, and infrastructure isn’t my only focus. Candidates who will interest me will also have a strong focus on community building as well as continuing to bridge the gaps between rural and urban needs.

In this election, the coming surge in new development along with the contentious proposal to build a hydroelectric pumped storage facility on the Tank Range will be common topics. One of those council has significant influence over, the other is not a municipal issue at all at this point. Candidates will be peppered with questions about both, and voters will be paying close attention to their responses.

The candidates I am looking for won’t make fool’s promises like pledging to lower taxes – if a candidate truly understood the gravity of the infrastructure crisis, they certainly wouldn’t even entertain the idea that taxes be lowered, let alone make such a promise to voters.

So I have my top concerns and issues that I am looking for candidates to address, and you, dear reader, no doubt have your own. Many have expressed concerns about winter roads control, or policing in the community. I’ve also heard from some readers about wanting to ensure responsible growth of the community, and others who feel there needs to be a re-focus on bringing new businesses, and by extension, jobs to the community.

Whatever is on your list of concerns, we at The Independent hope that our Municipal Election Guide issue (in stores Thursday) will help you to narrow your list of potential candidates, but don’t stop there. Contact the candidates if you have specific issues you’d like to hear their thoughts on, attend the candidate meetings, talk to your friends and neighbours.

It’s not an easy job to decide who to vote for in any municipal election, but we’ve armed you with the information about the candidates; now it is up to voters to do their homework and to decide who will best represent them for the next four years in the council chamber.

And finally, for the candidates, the next month is your time to shine. Don’t be invisible, get out and meet the voters, share your thoughts and ideas. Be true to yourself, and loyal to your ideas, and don’t let yourself be swayed into supporting ideas that will no doubt be tossed your way that just don’t make sense. If you can’t stand firm on your convictions during the campaign time, we certainly don’t need you taking up space in the council chamber.

Best of luck to all of the candidates, and to the voters, who have a significant and important job ahead of them in sifting through all of the candidates in order to narrow their own list down to one mayoral vote, and five votes for councillor. We won’t be voting for deputy mayor this time around as current Deputy Mayor Shirley Keaveney has no opposition, and has been acclaimed.

It’s just a month away, make your vote count.


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