The Situation Room – Voting, civic duty abound where public office is concerned

Mac Olsen

As a reporter, I’m always on the outside looking in.

But now, I will be on the inside as well, as I have become a member of the council for the Village of Donnelly (by acclamation).

I look at it as a new opportunity, a new adventure in life, which I’m looking forward to.

All those who put their name forward, whether it’s for the first time or re-election, have their own reasons for wanting to enter public service.

It’s not an easy decision for some people to make, especially when employment, family and other commitments come into play.

As with other aspects of life, trying to maintain a balance is hard, if not impossible for some.

But those who serve in public office are to be commended for making the commitment and sacrifice. We owe them our gratitude.

At the same time, those who are eligible to vote should do so out of a sense of civic responsibility. Alas, many people simply choose not to exercise their right to vote.

Over the years, I’ve seen the low turnouts for federal and provincial elections. Many people simply don’t care about the democratic process and that’s unfortunate, if not shameful.

True, many voters simply feel cynicism about the electoral process. Either their candidates/parties are not going to make any difference or are untrustworthy; or that the process itself is flawed and their votes won’t make any difference one way or the other.

But that cynicism is no excuse for not participating in the electoral and democratic process that we enjoy as Albertans, and as Canadians.

I have always exercised my right to vote, from the federal election in 1988 to the Alberta provincial election in 2015.

I remember the municipal election held in Thompson, Manitoba in the early 2000’s. The election for mayor was very close, just a few dozen votes. But the candidate I voted for won the election. So, I felt a certain amount of pride that my vote had made a difference in the outcome.

By the same token, it’s good to see that youth are encouraged to participate in the electoral and democractic process. On Oct. 12, two candidates for the M.D. and two for Falher council gave presentations to the students at Georges P. Vanier in an all-candidates forum. The students then voted in their own simulated election for the two groups of candidates.

While their votes won’t count in an actual election, they are at least getting a sense of what elections and voting are all about. Perhaps increased participation from youth in all future elections will result.

The actual elections for the Falher and M.D. candidates took place on Oct. 16. Watch for stories about those elections in next week’s Smoky River Express.

Also, watch for a separate story about the GPV student election.

In the end, it’s up to each and every one of us to exercise our right to put our names forward for public office, as well as to vote in those elections.

Voting and civic duty abound where public office is concerned.

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