May 20th, 2024

Lethbridge can do better than a 27 per cent voter turnout

By Lethbridge Herald on October 9, 2021.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

Opinions are like aches and pains- almost everybody has one. And come elections, opinions spread like weeds.

Everybody it seems is an expert and with the municipal election approaching on Oct. 18, I’ve heard many predictions about both the mayoral and council races.

Some of these opinions, no doubt, have a lot to do with the personal hopes of the people expressing them.

I prefer not to make assumptions because as we’ve seen in previous elections and often in sports, upsets can happen. 

With only a few incumbents running for re-election to city council, the race for all eight vacant positions may be interesting. Hopefully, more than 27 per cent of the electorate shows up at the polls so we can truly get an accurate idea about voter preferences. We can, and need to, do better if we want a government that is truly representative of us as a community.

In 2017, only 21,357 of 78,772 eligible voters participated in the municipal election.

Of the councillors elected in 2017, four are running again. Will any or all win re-election?

We won’t know until the polls close because none of us can read the minds of our fellow voters.

This year’s crop of council candidates is absolutely stellar. I heard about 17 of them speak at the recent Chamber of Commerce meet-and-greet and I was impressed with every one of them. All those who spoke were eloquent, passionate and had platforms that would make each one worthy of votes.

Of those incumbents who are running for re-election, I know several of them personally and I like them on a personal level. Will I vote for any of them? I have not decided to cast my ballot for anyone yet and may not until I actually get to the advance poll Sunday morning.

There are a few new candidates I follow on Twitter and occasionally engage with and they seem like great people, too. 

And to me, how a person treats me personally matters. If someone wants my vote, I want that person to be affable, approachable and friendly.

Years ago, when one candidate was running in Lethbridge West for a seat in the Alberta legislature — and I guarantee that person doesn’t remember this —the candidate was on my block and my German shepherd was being his usual snarky self but this person politely said something to the effect that “he’s such a pretty boy.” Most people, when they meet Rio for the first time, tend to ask what the hell’s wrong with him because he can be intimidating and ornery except to the vet and a couple of neighbours. Unlike other dogs I’ve owned, Rio absolutely loves the veterinarian. And not because he’s hungry. 

So people who are nice I tend to think highly of. But more importantly I want people on council who feel the same as I do on some issues and I want some who maybe offer a unique perspective on other matters. I believe we need diversity on council, we need innovative approaches and we need leadership. We need a council that reflects our entire community.

I also believe, as I wrote in my recent column about voting, we have to make choices that suit us, not someone else. We can’t let ourselves be bullied, intimidated or persuaded by friend, family or stranger into voting for a candidate we personally don’t want to see elected. We have to decide for ourselves who is best to represent us on city council. And only we can decide that for ourselves.

I sincerely hope come Oct. 18 all eligible city voters make an effort to hit the polls and have their voices count in the democratic process.

And if you hear a German shepherd barking a few yards from your polling station, just tell Rio he’s a pretty boy. 

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.


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