Opinion: How one vote can count for three in local elections

Wow, that was quick.

One day, the sun is shining, it’s hot outside, the grass is dead and we are all choking on the smoke from the interior forest fires. The next, it’s cold, raining and the kids are back in school. That was the fastest end to summer I have seen in a long time.

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Now that fall has arrived, we are headed for local elections. It’s been four years since the last one, so we can all be excused for not thinking about it. But just as fast as summer ended, election season will be in full swing.

Tomorrow is the deadline for nominations, and shortly after will be the race to get election signs posted. Most people hate all the signs littering the roads and fields, and complain about them every time. As someone who has put their name forward and run as an independent (ie. no one to help me!), I can tell you that as much as people hate them, people who have to put them up, make sure they stay up and take them down hate them more.

This is going to be a pivotal election, especially for Delta council. City hall is going to look very different. No matter what happens, there will be at least three new councillors as Heather King in not running, Ian Paton has stepped aside now that he’s our MLA and Sylvia Bishop is running for the top job against George Harvie and Jim Cessford. New mayor, half of a council being new, it’s a new era ahead, that’s for sure. Now, with Mayor Lois Jackson running for a council seat, that could make for an interesting dynamic.

Traditionally, voter turnout for municipal elections is low, typically around 33 per cent. People question whether this makes the results legitimate because not even the majority of the population votes, let alone chooses the people who are elected. I don’t worry about it too much, though. I look at it from a statistical standpoint – 33 per cent is more than a representative sample of the population, therefore the results would likely be the same even if everyone voted.

If you don’t vote, think of it this way – someone else is casting a ballot in your place. Those who do vote, in essence, get three votes. If only one-third cast a ballot, but those votes end up creating 100 per cent of the result, each ballot counts for three votes.

That’s why, over the next few weeks, you’ll see the signs, the ads, the phone calls and the folks at the door as all the candidates try and determine who will be supporting them and encouraging them to take a moment on Oct. 20 to vote.

So if you really want to have an impact on our community, take the time to learn about the candidates, figure out who you feel is best to run our local governments (council and school board), and then take five minutes on an October Saturday and vote.

With any luck, you’ll get three votes for the effort of one.

Best of luck to all the candidates. And thanks Heather King for your many years of service to Delta on council and school board.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has almost 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is president of the board of directors at Deltassist.

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