You owe it to yourself to vote

The civic election campaigns in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are almost over.

The civic election campaigns in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are almost over, but you still have a chance to cast a ballot.

And please spare me any garbage excuses about not having enough time or you forgot the date or the dog ate your ID.

If you care enough about your city or the School District 42 board of trustees, you will get off your butt long enough to get to the nearest polling station to vote.

If you don’t give enough of a hoot about these things to vote, for the next four years, please don’t whine to me about your disappointment with the decisions and actions of these locally elected officials.

There are plenty of candidates for all of the offices in both cities, but they need support to make their efforts worthwhile.

If you can only find one candidate to support, then go out and vote for that single candidate, but don’t sit at home and pass up the opportunity to show your pleasure, or displeasure, with the candidates.

A recently published poll indicated widespread dissatisfaction with many local councils in Metro Vancouver, including Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

But does that civic displeasure apply to all incumbents or just a few?

The decision is up to voters to settle.

Have the incumbents performed sufficiently to merit further support or re-election?

Again, that is up to the voters. But the only ones who matter are the voters who actually get out to vote.

One thing I hear frequently is, “What difference does a single vote make?”

Let me tell you, it can make a huge difference.

The first time I ran for public office, I finished a long way back of the successful candidates. But the second time around, I finished just 17 votes behind Reg Franklin, a veteran member of council. I called for a re-count and subsequently closed the gap to finish within 10 votes.

For the next several months, people would approach me to explain that they were sorry and apologized for not voting.

If just 11 of those apologetic friends had got out to vote for me, I would have won.

The point I am trying to make is to emphasize that every vote is important. And it also helps meet the obligation we have as free citizens living in a democracy.

There are many important issues at stake for both city councils and the board of school trustees. Whether it’s urban sprawl, commercial development, transit, transportation, or school construction, important decisions are facing both cities and the school trustees.

We have had ample opportunity to determine the policies and attitude of the candidates on the issues we consider important and now we must express our acceptance or rejection of the candidates by way of the ballot.

And when the final counts are announced in both cities, we will have four years to decide if we made the right choices.

You owe to yourself, to your children and grandchildren to carry out the simple obligation of free citizens living in a democracy to vote.

In this past week, we gathered to remember and honour the sacrifices many people have made on our behalf so we could continue to enjoy our democratic rights and the freedoms we enjoy living In Canada.

Don’t betray the legacy of those heroes and many others who fought and died or made other sacrifices for our country by not exercising your right to vote.

 

– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.