Not enough people vote in local elections, and when it comes to byelections – well, we’re not expecting a massive rush to the polls for this February’s board of education vote.
And yet – as we’ve said many times, and as we’ll say again – voting for your local representatives on school board and municipal council is one of the most important votes you can cast.
When it comes to federal and even provincial politics, the issues are large-scale, and party ideology, budgets, and bureaucratic inertia can make creating change hard for the average voter.
With your local governments, you are much closer to the levers of power. Get five or six of your friends to come with you to a council meeting to complain about a new development and watch what happens.
You might change their minds. You might get them to make some concessions and changes. At the very least, you will spark some discussion, because local politicians can’t afford to ignore even relatively small groups – a gaggle of neighbours upset about a development or a new road or a change to school bus schedules can make real problems for any elected official when they next go to the polls.
People are often encouraged to get involved by running for local office, but far more important are the first two steps in citizen engagement – get informed, and then vote.
We are quite likely to have several candidates running for the vacant seat on the school board in Langley Township. If you’re able to vote, look into them. See what they stand for and what their records are in the community. Call them up or corner them on Zoom and ask them about the stuff that matters to you – you can do that! They need your vote!
And whoever wins, remember that you can always complain, write, lobby, petition, speak out, or protest. Your chances of making change are best at the local level.