It looks like interest in local politics is alive and well.
A whopping 11 candidates are vying for six councillor seats in Taber come October’s election, assuring some turnover on a council that has seen its share of controversy. It is the highest number of candidates vying for council seats in recent memory.
Community Standards bylaws, the debate over a new fire hall, the parting of ways with EPCOR, the optics of transparency with abundant in-camera sessions, views on cannabis legislation, residency requirements, dealing with employees in the world of social media, the flying of the Pride flag decision, a resignation of a mayor and recycling bin initiatives are just a few topics off the top of one’s head that has had its share of discussion from various viewpoints.
Have the controversies sparked a new-found interest in democracy and running for office? Whatever the reason, choice is always good in exercising democracy.
The mayor’s chair is also up for grabs with two running for the position and there will be races in three of the divisions which encompass the Municipal District of Taber.
The Taber Times have been featuring candidates who have declared early and will continue to do so up until the municipal election on Oct. 16.
Along with encouraging voters to read the pages of The Taber Times or its website to get up to speed on your various candidates, people should also attend the candidates forum that has been tentatively set for Oct. 12 at the Heritage Inn.
Be it the Town of Taber or Municipal District of Taber, these will be the people helping shape your area for the foreseeable future.
Recreation, infrastructure, education, job creation, tax base, social policy, policing, fire, emergency services, and provincial relations are just a few of the many things that will be be shaped by your local council that has a very real affect on your everyday life.
And the interest in the political process should not just end on Oct. 16.
When the elections are over and members of councils of the Town of Taber, M.D. of Taber and board members of Horizon School Division roll up their sleeves to go to work, engagement in the process should be a year-long endeavour for John Q. Public.
Taking a mere 10 minutes out of your day can give you access to the agendas on the various governing bodies’ websites to see if there is an issue that is being discussed that may be of interest to you.
If you see a hot-button topic, take the time to rearrange your schedule and attend the meeting and gauge the discussion on the topic to see where the political winds are blowing.
If proper discussion is not being made, demand transparency from those who are the decision makers.
The mantra of simply being ‘too busy’ is often a default used by some in being plugged into the political process, and an ironic one at that.
Often those everyday responsibilities of work, leisure and raising a family are the very things that can be affected in the political arena that people say they are too busy to enter as even a casual spectator and monitor.
The process we will be afforded on Oct. 16 at the voting stations is something some citizens of some countries have literally died for to get the opportunity. Municipal politics is the one level of government you have the most control over, so give it the respect it deserves.
Educate your vote by attending the forum, reading the newspaper on candidate profiles and if you see your candidate on the street, ask him or her about an issue that has been on your mind and their stance on it.
And whoever ends up winning seats, be vigilant in holding them accountable to the public.
Democracy deserves more than just voting for someone because they go to your church, they are a person you would like to have a beer with or they have a child on your kid’s hockey team.
It is about the issues that are most important to you and how you feel certain candidates can do in addressing those issues to your satisfaction in running the municipality.
Change for the better does not happen by itself… it begins with you.