Thursday, November 13, 2008

Switching Gears

In the vacuum left by the U.S. election, I have been handing out fliers for some municipal politicians. My motivation is twofold: I support these politicians and am eager to increase voter turnout. Although civic elections seem dwarfed by wider global issues, their results determine the condition of our communities and the environment that our children learn in. There are two components, in Canada: a vote for mayor and council and one for school trustees. The Saanich Civil League also wants to increase turnout; they note that only 19 percent of residents voted in the last election. They have released a publication of the voting record of the past council on key issues, have a profile for each candidate, and candidates' responses to eight issues. Although there have been some staunch accusations of misrepresentation in the first publication, their result matches my impression from reading the local newspaper and my overall preference in candidates. Other resources are Saanich News's Introducing Candidates (similar coverage is available from the Black Press for other municipalities) and online minutes and newsletters from local community associations. In addition to these relatively unbiased resources, others, such as the Victoria Labour Council, endorses a number of candidates. This wealth of information that is easy to access and read leaves little excuse for voting by name recognition.

There is much less information readily available on school trustees. In addition, to some coverage in local newspapers, much of it encouraging people to vote for trustees, there are a couple of sites: VLC and StrongVoices (basically a website for two candidates that have teamed up). Other information is available, but not widely disseminated, such as the Victoria Strings Program list of trustees who support music programs. Essentially there are two things to consider in evaluating a trustee: how well they can manage scarce funds and what programs they favour. Shirley Bond's cuts make it even more necessary that trustees be particularly astute. The legality of school fees is an issue that John Young has spearheaded. This labyrinthine debate is better suited to lawyers, but after some examination of the evidence, he appears to be correct.

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