Pictou-Advocate-opinion

Seek change, but show up

Opinion

If the large number of candidates running in the 2016 municipal election is anything to go by, it’s shaping up to be one heck of an election!

Virtually every street corner boasts an abundance of election signs.

The seemingly renewed interest in municipal politics comes on the heels of the failed attempt to reach a memorandum of understanding in the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton and Pictou and the Municipality of the County of Pictou.

It could be just coincidence, but it appears as if the dissatisfaction with the MOU movement has incited some residents to take action themselves and offer their time to serve on their respective councils. Kudos to them for offering their time. More than 80 people have registered to represent their municipal unit in the 2016 election – including both mayors and councillors.

There are also new faces offering for the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board with several being acclaimed.

In the Municipality, with its newly aligned boundaries, every district except for two has at least two people vying for the seat; several areas in a three-way race. Two councillors have been acclaimed.

Westville is the only municipal unit where all of its councillors were acclaimed. This could be an indication that Westville residents are thrilled with the way current councillors are representing their interests. Since there is a three-way race for mayor, it could also be indicative that change is desired, but no one else was willing to step up to the plate and offer as a councillor to get it done.

There is also a three-way race for mayor in Trenton; current mayor, Glen MacKinnon, is not re-offering. Eight people – including a father/daughter duo – are vying for four council seats.

Pictou also has a three-way race for mayor with Joe Hawes not re-offering. Seven people are vying for four council seats.

The largest race appears to be in New Glasgow where four people want to be mayor (current mayor, Barrie MacMillan, has not re-offered) and 16 people are vying for six council seats.

There are two people in the race to be mayor of Stellarton with the incumbent being challenged. Its four council seats are being challenged by six people.
Clearly, Pictou County residents want change. The resounding ‘no’ vote on the MOU plebiscite indicated that particular change was not wanted, but the large number of people running for council should show that change, of some sort, is desired.

Why, then, would so few people turn out for the first two of seven Pints & Politics sessions, being organized and hosted by Pulse Pictou County? At Monday night’s events in Stellarton and Merigomish, very few voters showed up to hear what the candidates had to say and in the case of Stellarton, only   three candidates showed up: two people offering as new councillors and the one challenger for mayor.

This indifference to municipal politics flies in the face of what seems to be making up the local political landscape. On one hand, people indicate they want change while on the other, few made the time to  listen to the candidates and even fewer candidates made the time to listen to the voters they are trying to reach.

Kudos to Pulse Pictou County for organizing these Pints & Politics events. They deserve a lot of credit for recognizing that change – in whatever form – needs to happen. They made it very easy for voters to hear what the candidates in their area have to say.

While the turnout in Stellarton and Pictou East was very low, we hope others see the value in listening to what those seeking office have to say. There are other Pints & Politics events taking place in Pictou County.

Democracy works when we vote, but it also works well when we show up and listen to what everyone has to say, not just head to the polls with our minds already made up.

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