Make good use of your right to vote

The 30 per cent turnout from last election cycle has to be better as Cranbrook and Kimberley head to the polls on Saturday.

If I sound like a broken record, I apologize.

Okay, not really, but still, I’ve been covering and plugging this for the last few months.

I’m talking, of course, about the municipal election.

Advance voting is over, but the general election is set for tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 15th.

For municipal residents voting for candidates who are running for city council, mayor, and school district trustee, polls will be set up at Laurie Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For people who live outside municipal boundaries under the jurisdiction of the RDEK, polls will be open at the RDEK boardroom during the same timeframe, where area residents can vote for their electoral area director and school board trustee.

In addition to the LMS location, there will be special voting times for residents at care facilities in Cranbrook including: Mountain View Village, Joseph Creek Village, Joseph Creek Care Village, F.W. Memorial Home, Scott Villa and patients at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.

As part of Cranbrook’s municipal election, an assent question is on the ballot on the Cease Fluoridation bylaw. A ‘yes’ vote means stopping fluoridation, a ‘no’ vote means continuing fluoridation.

If you are not registered on the list of electors, bring two pieces of identification when you come to vote at either locations, and they can set it up and help you exercise your democratic right.

There have been many opportunities to get a look at the candidates.

The main event was the JCI Kootenay’s All-Candidates Forum that featured a jam-packed Key City Theatre, as residents came out to hear from 16 council and three mayoral candidates.

It was encouraging to see so much interest from everyone, considering voter turnout in the last election cycle, which was around 30 percent.

That’s awful and I think it’s fair to say that number should be much better.

The right to vote is one of the most precious freedoms we enjoy in this country at any level of government, and from a global perspective, we are lucky to have that right when you see how people in other countries are oppressed and don’t get a say about their future.

Voter turnout in Canada has been on the decline at the federal and provincial levels for many years. I think voter apathy plays a big part in that and the thinking that ‘nothing ever changes so my vote doesn’t matter.’

That, of course, is baloney.

Every vote matters, especially at the municipal level. Consider the numbers: Wayne Stetski needed only 1,329 votes to get elected in 2011. That’s less than 10 per cent of Cranbrook’s population. Denise Pallesen, who ran for city council, managed to crack the 10 per cent threshold with 2,209 votes.

That criticism may be a little unwarranted because I’m going off population rather than a number based on a list of eligible voters, but still, those totals can be much higher.

From covering the election, I’ve been encouraged by events like the All-Candidates Forum at the Key City Theatre. A full theatre shows that people care about the community, the issues and the course for the future.

And a tip of the hat to the candidates running for mayor, council and school district trustee as well. Regardless of being elected or not, it takes guts to put yourself out there and put yourself on display for the community to scrutinize.

While a few common themes have emerged from the candidates (and residents)—like the state of the infrastructure and the city budget—it’s been great to have the conversation touch on areas such as economic development, tourism and arts and culture, to name a few.

This election is just another in the municipal cycle, but it’s one that will shape the city for the next four years.

And on Saturday, you will have the chance to have a say in that future.

Trevor Crawley is a reporter with the Daily Townsman.

Check out our special election coverage

The Cranbrook Daily Townsman/Kimberley Daily Bulletin is running a special supplement in today’s paper where candidates for mayor and council in both communities were given the chance to make their final case before voting day.

Mayoral candidates were given space for a 300-word article, while council candidates had a 200-word limit. Each article is written directly by the candidate and only edited for grammar or to adhere to the word count.

In the Daily Townsman, the mayoral candidates are on Page 9, while the council candidates are on Page 10-11. In the Daily Bulletin, mayoral candidates are on Page 9, and council candidates are on Page 10.

After the polls close on Saturday, be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for real-time updates and the election results.