OPINION: Something’s broken


Next time you sit down in a Chatham-Kent cafe or restaurant and work to solve the municipality’s problems over a cup of coffee, look around you. Count out ten people. On average, seven of them did NOT vote in the Oct. 24 municipal election.

Voter turnout was a dismal 30.56 per cent. We have traditionally been below the 50-per-cent threshold, but not this lousy. We were headed in the right direction. In 2010, voter turnout was a weak 39.93 per cent. Four years later, that figure increased to 42.11 per cent, and then reached 45.44 per cent in 2018. And then the bottom fell out Oct. 24.

It’s shameful. We live in a democracy. Many of our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for our right to cast that ballot and live in freedom.

To just shrug one’s shoulders and eschew such a right is an insult to them.

Most excuses just don’t cut it. 

“Oh, I knew the mayor’s race wouldn’t be close, so why bother?”

There are 17 councillors on our municipal council. They mayor’s position is the 18th vote, and it is only cast in a recorded vote, or in the case of a tie. 

Darrin Canniff may hold down a full-time job with the chains of office, but come council decisions, he is but one voice.

“One vote doesn’t make a difference.”

Tell that to Clare Latimer, who lost her seat in South Kent by one vote to Ryan Doyle. One vote.

“I didn’t know the candidates or the issues.”

That is a ‘you’ problem. This newspaper, as well as numerous other media outlets, posted detailed information about the candidates. Chances are candidates or members of their volunteer teams stopped by your door to chat during the campaign. 

“It’s a municipal election. Who cares?”

We all should care. Municipal government has more impact on your everyday lives than the provincial or federal governments. We have a host of concerns here in C-K that are fixed – properly or improperly – by the decisions made by our 18 elected municipal representatives.

However, this is more than just wagging a finger at the people who didn’t vote. We must ask them why. What percentage of the electorate truly thought their vote didn’t matter BECAUSE regardless of who was elected, administration runs the show?

Rightly or wrongly, people do foster such a belief. And that is the biggest concern of all. Democracy is for the people. If the people believe they have no input, something is broken. And that is incumbent on our council to work to rectify the problem.



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