Municipal elections lack the glamour of federal and provincial campaigns. There are no air-conditioned tour buses, no packs of media clustered around the candidates, no rousing speeches broadcast on the nightly news. Stage-managed photo ops are few and far between.
The election campaign of a candidate for city council or school board is a lot of worn shoe leather, knocking on doors, greeting people on the sidewalk, attending small meetings in cramped rooms rather than expansive halls. Some candidates are so thrifty they even manage to recycle their signs from previous campaigns.
But those humble candidates who are elected for municipal office will end up wielding a great deal of influence on our day-to-day lives. The decisions they make will effect our communities in profound and lasting ways.
They’ll determine how much we have to pay in property taxes, and how that money is used or squandered. They’ll effect how we get around and how many coins we have to plug into the parking meter once we get there. By creating parks and playgrounds, stifling or cultivating development, funding police and fire departments, setting aside money for the enhancement and repairs of utilities like water and sewage, they’ll have a direct influence on the quality of life in the community that elected them. The decisions school boards make effect the quality of education, the future opportunities available to new generations.
But for some reason, municipal elections rarely capture the attention of voters; only three in 10 bother to cast a ballot. You can bet it’s those silent seven who gripe the loudest when their morning commute is delayed by traffic jams, they have to put another quarter in the parking meter or programs at their child’s school are pared back. Unless they take a few moments on Saturday to mark their X, they have no right.
— New Westminster News Leader