It’s local government/school board voting day in B.C., and if history tells us anything, it’s that turnout is going to be fairly low– 50% is, perhaps, optimistic.
I think this is too bad since in a lot of ways, civic government is the best example of “direct democracy” we have. Unlike federal or provincial elections where you only get to vote for one representative who may or may not wind up in the governing party and who, even if they do, may or may not be a cabinet member, in municipal elections you vote for every open seat. Maybe not every one of your choices will get in, but the odds are a lot better. And if they don’t, it’s not because of regional weighting or first-past-the-post– it’s because more people voted for everyone else. You even get to vote directly for the city’s “leader” (mayor), although it is worth noting that mayor’s don’t have the amount of executive decision-making power that many people seem to think.
For another thing, city issues are extremely concrete and direct. Water supply. Roads and snow clearing. Garbage collection, parks, and building licences. The look and feel of your community is directly affected by decisions made by city council. They may not have the taxing power and/or financial means to do everything they’d like to do, but lots of this is fundamental stuff. Federal and provincial governments manage important things, too, but I think not enough weight is put on the importance of local government.
To that end, yesterday on Daybreak we had two guests who broke down whythey think municipal elections important. Former school district trustee Lois Boone pointed out that school boards have a larger budget than city councils do, and have a direct effect on the education of children. Hear her interview here.
Likewise, UNBC professor Jason Morris was equally adamant that people should get themselves informed about the people wanting to run the city, and there is no shortage of ways to do so and reasons why you should. That can be heard here.
However, you may be reading this having no idea about where, how, and who to vote for. I’m not going to tell you (particularly on that last choice), but I am going go give you a quick break-down of where you can get some last-minute information for the Prince George area:
Where Do I Vote?
The City of Prince George has an elections page. It includes a list of places where you can vote, and links to other information. I’ll even make it easier on you– you can vote at Kelly Road, Vanway, John McInnis, DP Todd, Malaspina, Rob Brent, Edgewood, and Blackburn.
Do I Need ID?
The provincial government has a list of election rules. Key information:
” you must have two pieces of identification that prove who you are and where you live. One piece of identification must have your signature on it. If your identification does not show your residential address, you can make what is called a “solemn declaration” as to your place of residence. The voting clerk at the voting place will have the form you need to use to make that declaration.” If you need to know more than that, go here.
Who Should I Vote For?
Hahaha, I’m not going to tell you that. But I will give you a list of places where you can get some of that information.
So there you are. You have until 8 pm tonight to do this, so you should, at the very least, be able to find a couple of people you like and vote for them– no obligation to vote for a full slate. But it is worth it to try and find people who you think can make your city a better place.
And as an aside, I’ll be working tonight on the CBC election special for northern BC. Starting at 8 we’ll have coverage of the full northern region, with punditry from UNBC professors Jason Morris and Jason Lacharite, former MLA/deputy premier and former school district trustee Lois Boone. We’ll have live coverage of the results, so tune in.
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