OUR VIEW: Democracy’s a lot of work but it’s worth the effort

Congratulations to all of the candidates who stood for election to city council, village council, regional district and school board in Saturday’s local government elections.

Win or lose, your willingness to contribute makes our communities better by virtue of that simple act.

But the vast number of voters who did not exercise their democratic rights is a real concern. Only 25 per cent of eligible voters cast their vote in Saturday’s election. That’s down from 38.5 per cent in the previous election. Not good enough.

This year’s election was perhaps hampered by the lack of a mayoral race for the region’s biggest office – namely, Mayor of Campbell River – but that’s really no excuse. The mayor is, when all is said and done, just one voice – read: vote – on council. So, the individual councillors are just as important as the mayor is and have as much say as the mayor in crafting community legislation.

An election shouldn’t need a starring competition to fuel voter interest. We all know the importance of voting, yet some people continue to avoid casting their vote. Perhaps people don’t feel informed enough about the issues to cast a vote. There is a value in not voting if you’re not up to speed on the issues. But then it becomes incumbent on voters to know the issues and that is not just something to cram into a few weeks before the election.

Voters need to be aware of what’s going on in their community throughout the four years of their representatives’ term. And that means paying attention to the local news, attending council meetings (or at least reading about them) and public hearings as well as the myriad open houses for various projects, programs and plans.

Democracy is a lot of work but it is only you that benefits from it.