Can you make a difference? Absolutely!

On September 19th, a significant number of candidates submitted nomination papers to indicate an interest in running for municipal office in Alberta. Subsequently, election signs appeared everywhere. Of course, those wishing to be elected are seeking support from voters. Accordingly, your participation is necessary for a difference to occur. Ultimately, on October 16th, citizens exercise their rights, step up to their responsibility and vote to decide who serves for the next four years.

Historically Speaking

First and foremost, Canadian rights come with responsibility. In this case specifically, participation in free elections at every level. Unfortunately, despite increased public vitriol regarding politicians, Canadians involvement in the electoral process is low. By and large, only 25 – 30% of the population decides who governs. Paradoxically, new Canadians, who may not enjoy this privilege in their country of origin, engage actively in the process. For example, voter turnout in Calgary’s 2013 municipal election was 39.4% (262,352 Calgarians voted) down from 53% in 2010, while Edmonton experienced a 34.5% turnout (213,585 Edmontonians cast their ballots), up slightly from 2010’s 33.4%.

An Increased Interest

At this point, interest in holding office following the 2017 election looks significantly different.

  • The incumbent and 9 candidates vying for Mayor (up 1 from 2013)
  • The incumbent and 12 candidates seeking the office of Mayor (up from 6 candidates in 2013)

Arguably, with more individuals running for office, a change took place during the last four years. As a consequence of economic changes and alterations in the world’s social structure, the focus shifted. In addition, many people expect government at all levels to provide a degree of security albeit with fewer resources. As a consequence, an “us versus them” position continues to evolve. Strangely enough, despite the rhetoric ratepayers and elected officials alike, we are in this together for the long haul.

Is a Brighter Future Possible?

At this point, we do not know what the future holds; however, a new model for public engagement and decision-making bears consideration. Ultimately, elected officials, ratepayers, and public servants need to listen to learn and understand rather than to argue, dispute or silence critics. In fact, it is time to find areas of agreement so we move forward efficiently to bring effective, balanced growth and well-being for all. For this reason, remember “alone we can do little but together we can accomplish much”.

Further, our civic responsibility does not end with the election. In the same manner, we seek to make a difference by running for office and voting, we create a better world by investing time t0 build stronger relationships and community. 

Vote on Monday, October 16. Then, consider future involvement.  For this reason, Lolly Daskal reminds us, “It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.”

Can you make a difference? Absolutely!