I admit it, I’m more than a bit cynical when it comes to elections in general. Why? Because while countries overseas will riot,march by thousands in the streets and overthrow governments simply to have a free election and exercise the right to a free vote, here in Canada many can’t even be bothered to make time for that right.
It drives me nuts. It really does! People will make time to get a DVD from the Red Box, sit and get their nails done, watch a hockey game… all on voting day… but they ‘don’t have time to vote.’ Having a busy schedule was a reason cited on Stats Canada 2011 report. No kidding! Well guess what. If you are too busy to vote, I am too busy to listen to your whining about the results of the election. Don’t talk to me. Same goes for those of you who don’t like the choices and spoil your ballot, or again, refuse to vote. Guess what? Your non-vote just made someone else’s vote more powerful.
As long time readers know,I’ve been a Surrey resident for over a decade and have been blogging about life here for a good portion of that time. I’ve seen some good changes in some neighbourhoods and some not so good changes in others. I’ve been challenged on many stories by developers and others whose interest in the city is less altruistic and more profit driven. In a city with one of the largest land areas that is yet to be developed, there is a lot at stake here. We are on the cusp of transition on an unprecedented level, but with that transition comes challenges and issues,many of which have simply been moved from one area to another.
While Newton and Whalley, aka City Centre have gained much of the pre-election press- and deservedly so – what has emerged in media coverage by our local press in their neighbourhoods series, is that these two communities are not alone in feeling under-appreciated or neglected. The strategy of the city has been to focus on one town centre of a time, whereas a cohesive strategy of small gains in every town centre simultaneously is what residents are asking for, and deserve.
Unlike many pundits and commentators who have openly endorsed slates or recommended who they will vote for, other than the prior post on the under-recognized independents, I don’t feel it’s right to tell you who to vote for. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that although I was asked to join the Surrey Citizen Leaders group, I declined because I felt it was inappropriate given some members had already publicly endorsed mayoral candidates.
That might seem at odds with pushing for change on council, which I think is desperately needed. It’s been ruled by one slate for so long, the record of votes of each current council member is public, and at times has been at odds with the cities own policies.
I will tell you that my votes will go to candidates who have a proven community track record and who I feel will represent every area of Surrey with as much dedication and equality, in the areas of crime, development, ALR protection,sustainability and employment. There can be no favourites. Newton has suffered long enough. So has Whalley.
Many voters tend to be single issue voters – whichever candidates successfully address that issue is who they tend to vote for. It might crime, which is a very big reality in many areas, not just a perception as some incumbents continue to claim. It might be sustainable development as clear-cuts devastate many neighbourhoods in favour of high density housing. It might be the inability to commute due to lack of or limited transit. It might be the slowing disappearing farmland, or food security.
Whatever your issues are, I strongly feel every resident in this city knows what hasn’t been working, and what has, along with who on the current council is engaged with residents from across the city, and who isn’t. That was starkly clear during this campaign when one Mayoral Candidate,Linda Hepner, failed to attend 4 separate resident hosted candidate events in different areas. Doug McCallum failed to attend one, held in Strawberry Hill by Newton residents.
I do not encourage people to vote by slates, in fact if I could, I would abolish the putting of slates besides candidates names on the ballot. Without that slate name, voters would be more likely to research and find out about the candidates than they do with it. Slates make it easy for lazy voters to vote, and allow candidates who shouldn’t be elected, to slide through based on connection.
There are several mayoral candidates and a large group of contenders for council:many have both a strong track record of service and engagement in the community along with business experience, some do not. But regardless of who you vote for, the entire community will live with the consequences for the next 4 years since the term for service has been extended by one year. Look not at just your own neighbourhood,but what has happened to others, and in others. Next time, it could be yours.
Voters often forget about the school trustees as well, and if you are a parent with children in school, or soon to enter school, you need to do your research. There are vastly different groups of candidates running that are diametrically opposed in terms of inclusiveness and diversity-one candidate has still refused to answer my question asked on twitter,as to whether he supported or opposed the strict anti-homophobia policy the Surrey School board has instituted. This matters to me, that school is a safe place for every single student, free of bullying or discrimination. Ask questions. Be informed. This particular vote will impact your childrens school directly.
Take a half hour to do your research, mark the names down and make sure you have your identification when you go and vote.
We are at a crossroads in this city, and we need to get this right. Voting is the easiest way for you to directly impact what happens in the next 4 years, and I am hoping for a change that brings some sunshine to everyone living in Surrey, rich,poor or in between.
Here are some links to candidate and voting information:
City of Surrey candidate information: http://www.surrey.ca/election2014/candidates.aspx
Vancouver Sun candidate surveys ( not many participated!!) http://www.vancouversun.com/news/municipal-election/candidatesurvey.html?appSession=017480892246981
Voting locations: http://www.surrey.ca/election2014/how-to-vote/where-to-vote.aspx
Good luck and hopefully by tomorrow night we are walking into a future that shines.