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HELSTON: Local politics are not boring

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
September 26, 2014 - 7:55 AM

I’d like you to list the names of your city councillors. Okay, just one councillor. The mayor? No? Then you’re just like I was before I got paid to know.

I’ll be honest; I never used to take much interest in local politics. Like many, I considered it boring, small town, no consequence stuff. But I’ve realized municipal politics are vastly underrated. No politician is closer to the people they serve and represent than your local mayor and councillors. So why not get to know them?

Sure the federal government seems sexier, with its flag-waving nationalism and position on world events and major constitutional questions. Our provincial government delves into education and health care and highways.

But local government is more about the basics of life. They provide you with clean water and take your dirty water away. They bring the fire trucks and police cars. They find places for your garbage, drainage and snow removal. They provide recreation for you and your family with arenas, swimming pools, parks and sports fields. They mediate disputes between neighbours over dogs, garbage, noise, parking. They have more impact than any other level of government on the success or failure of your small business by setting tax rates, deciding where they can safely locate and providing an attractive environment for employees. 

Are any of those things important to you?

Service levels are set by those with the most votes. Voter turnout in the last election was only 30 per cent. Where was everyone?

I invite anyone to come forward and tell me this city is perfect. We wouldn’t need a city council if it was. There’s work to do and city councillors are the people we elect to get the job done. What will it take for us to show some interest?

Maybe that’s a question for Vernon’s new council. If they can find ways to reach out and engage the public, surely we can meet them halfway. Do whatever floats your boat—tweet your city councillors, call them up, grab a coffee with them. Get to know them, and get out on voting day, because these people can make a difference.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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