Published: February 28, 2018
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
By the time most of our readers have checked out this space February 14 will have come and gone and the hearts, flowers, chocolates and wine will have been put away or consumed giving romance adverse another 364 days of breathing room till the day of love cycles back around again.
I am sure there are many out there that wish profusely that Valentine’s Day (or bitter singles day as its known in my circle) were a more rare occasion, perhaps as often as a leap year or say a municipal election.
Vote Red Lake signs began appearing around the community earlier this month and now that the Olympics have concluded this scribe is hoping that the visual cue will shake the community awake to start looking at what we want our next leadership team to look like.
While it is still too early for candidates to officially come forward, that process will start when the snow has melted likely, this is a good opportunity to also remind voters that it is no longer necessary to actually head to the polls.
That’s right, the excuse of not being able to find or get to your polling place will not be a valid one in 2018 as electors will just have to click a few buttons on their phone, iPad or home computer to select their leaders. It will be as easy as buying groceries from Amazon or shoes from Zulily.
In March of last year current municipal leaders reviewed and passed a bylaw to “authorize the use of internet and telephone voting” for the next community election. The bylaw empowers the clerk to establish procedures for the use of both avenues for the upcoming election. The alternative voting methods will also be used for school board elections.
The new process is expected to cost less than $4.00 per elector in the district and provide convenience to our everyday lives. It can accommodate demanding work schedules, enhances accessibility for those travelling, infirmed or with language barriers and should, here’s hoping, increase voter turn out in youth and middle-age voters.
And here’s why, while I dare not guess the median age of our current council for fear of offending anyone, it is definitely not representative of the young and vibrant community in which many are attempting to encourage and promote. There are barriers for those of us under 40, even under 50, to participating in municipal government, such as family obligations, work schedules and accessibility for travel and meetings just to name a few. I can name on one hand the number of candidates that were in the under 35 category in the last three elections I have covered and many admitted to putting their name forward for the experience alone.
Gen X may not yet have the time or the experience to step forward in a community leadership role but we know darn well how to operate our smart phone and it should only take a few minutes Oct. 22 between Friends episodes on Netflix to choose leaders that represent our values and vision for our community.