Opinion: The four years ahead

With 75 per cent of voters staying home Saturday, does that mean they're satisfied, or disenchanted?

Despite calls for sweeping change, both by some of the candidates and in online discussions, there was little of that Saturday evening.

Of the 14 people who make up city council and the board of education, only three will be new.

Indeed, all but one incumbent failed to win re-election.

There had been a determined effort in some quarters to oust the incumbents for a variety of perceived sins; one candidate even posed with a broom in front of City Hall, calling for a “clean sweep.” They were accused of neglecting the downtown, failing to stop crime, failing to support public education, failing to protect the environment.

But when the votes were counted Saturday evening, that anger and online vitriol did not translate into change.

So is that an affirmation of the work done by these two elected bodies over the past three years?

It is certainly tempting to think so.

But only to a point. It’s important to remember that, despite a better turnout than in 2011, more than 75 per cent of eligible voters did not vote.

Certainly Sharon Gaetz can find satisfaction in her commanding win. But she and the other victors on Saturday night must acknowledge that the majority of voters stayed at home.

True, that could mean they’re satisfied with the way things are being done.

However, it could also be that they’ve simply given up; that they believe their vote and their voice has little impact on the course this community will take over the next four years.

Winning back that majority is the challenge for the new council and school board.

The essence of democracy is not only delivering to those who elected you, but listening, engaging and accommodating those who did not.