Politicians don’t know it all

Maple Ridge councillor Cheryl Ashlie responds to a story about the district's new election bylaw

District of Maple Ridge Councillor Cheryl Ashlie.

District of Maple Ridge Councillor Cheryl Ashlie.

Editor, The News:

In regards to the article “Council moves ahead with election law”, (The News, July 9) I would like to offer clarification and an apology to the public.

Public engagement and gaining knowledge and perspectives from those who take the time to share their views are a mainstay in assisting council with our decision -making process and I pride myself on valuing this at all times.

However, the way my comments were reflected in the article specific to referendum questions, tends to imply the opposite.

I hold myself responsible for not being more concise in the interview and apologize to the public for the inference that politicians know more than the public.

I do believe that the majority of the public are busy and expect me to do the work I was elected to do on the public’s behalf, but this does not mean I feel the general public cannot be as informed as I believe I am expected to be.

Some of my best information comes from citizens who invest their time to become knowledgeable on an issue they feel is important.

Further to the referendum question issue that the article focused on, the discussion was raised by a council member after a presentation to council from a declared mayoral candidate who cited referendums as a way to increase voter turn-out.

While I may be convinced there are limited times that a referendum may be needed, I do not agree with them as a whole, but I especially do not agree with using them for the sole purpose of increasing voter turn-out.

I believe all issues within the community are relevant and elections should be focused on electing a council that has a grasp on what those issues are and the capacity to provide thoughtful, honest governance.

More voters being brought out for a single issue question, to me, does not necessarily net a better election environment.

On election turn-out in general, municipal staff who are legislatively assigned through a bylaw to the task of organizing the local election have committed to a strong public awareness campaign and more opportunities for voting leading up to the actual Nov. 15 date.

Council is expected to stay out of this, as it could provide an environment of potential conflict or manipulation.

In closing, I have never understood why we have to convince people to vote, as I know we all know our country’s history and the sacrifices that were made to protect democracy.

Having been an elected official and experienced the breadth of decisions that have to be made and how they affect the community, no one has to convince me to vote.

On Nov. 15, my name will not be on the ballot, but I have complete respect for those who will be on it and I have even more respect for the people who take the time to vote.

Cheryl Ashlie

Councillor, District of Maple Ridge