It’s the level of government that touches us the most. And yet, it is often the least popular when it comes time to vote.
Municipal elections are the ultimate in grassroots politics. Decisions made here can affect our neighbourhoods and the city for years to come. However, they often lack the same draw as a federal or provincial campaign. Voter turnout can be as low as 30 per cent.
That’s why an initiative by the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board is so welcome.
The board is unveiling this week a website aimed at stirring up interest in the municipal campaign. The website at www.thevalleyvotes.ca will feature items that will interest both voters and those seeking public office. (See story here.)
For the voters, the site will include candidate profiles and submissions, giving them a chance to get to know the people seeking their vote.
Candidates, meanwhile, can draw from public submissions to determine the issues that are generating interest in Chilliwack.
The overall intent of the website, says CADREB president Mark Andersen, is to generate a public dialogue that will hopefully translate into greater voter participation.
And we have lots of room for improvement. According to CADREB, Chilliwack had the ninth worst voter turnout in the province during the last election.
Andersen, a former city councillor, certainly knows the important role civic politics plays in shaping a community.
However, for grassroots democracy to really function it needs the full participation from those who have the opportunity to vote.
Local Realtors are making it easier for us to learn more about the candidates before we cast our ballots.
But they can’t do it all. It’s still up to us to exercise our responsibility and vote.