There is a group working in the current municipal election campaign trying to get out the vote, educate voters, and counter the impact of slates on local politics.
There are three Maple Ridge elector organizations that will be active during the campaign period for this fall’s city election.
The best known slate is Maple Ridge First, which is represented by incumbent councillors Judy Dueck, Ryan Svendsen, Chelsa Meadus and Mayor Mike Morden. Morden has yet to announce if he will run again, but is listed as the principal official for Maple Ridge First.
A Better Maple Ridge is another elector organization registered with Elections BC. More about this organization will be announced in the coming week.
A third elector organization is Independent Maple Ridge (IMR). Their principal Elliott Markillie explained they are primarily interested in getting out more voters, and making sure they are educated about the issues. They will also be supporting a candidate or candidates.
“The founders are Maple Ridge residents who are united in a common goal to ensure their community gets a free and fair election this fall,” said Markillie, adding that there are 25 members of the growing organization.
He is interested in local government, and is serving on two city committees – tourism and economic development.
The lifelong resident of Maple Ridge asserts 2022 is the most important local election he has seen.
“We’re on the cusp of a transformative era for Maple Ridge,” he said.
The voter turnout in the last election was just 34 per cent, he noted, and that’s too small a number, according to Independent Maple Ridge (IMR). Even though there were 60,000 names on the voters list in 2018, just 6,000 votes would get someone elected to council, Markillie pointed out.
He wants to see residents more engaged than that, as the city grapples with important issues. The main ones he sees are:
• Addiction and homelessness
• Demands for infrastructure
• The local economy
• Green initiatives
• The style of local politics
Although he heads an elector organization, Markillie said slates are not productive in local government, and his group will support councillors working independently.
“We want to amplify independent voices in the community,” he said.
He said slates can help candidates get elected, to the detriment of independents, and he sees the block voting they promote as a negative. He said the group mentality or ‘hive-mind’ of a slate steers them into agreeing to vote for each other, campaign for each other, agree not to compete for the same roles and ultimately exclude and oppose others contesting them.
“That kind of group will drown out the independent voices in the community,” he said. “The current council is not functioning well.”
Markillie has a two-month-old baby at home, so it is a busy time that precludes him running for council. In any case, he sees people he can get behind.
“If there weren’t good candidates running, I would consider it,” he said.
He noted their group will be making announcements about which council candidates they endorse in the near future.
”We envision a bright future where the city council puts the citizens first and makes Maple Ridge a freer and more prosperous community for all,” he said.
Independent Maple Ridge will soon announce community events.
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