COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Pay attention and be sure to...
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Aug 19, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

COMMUNITY COLUMNIST: Pay attention and be sure to mark your X

Hamilton Mountain News

By Elizabeth King, special to the News

I’ve voted in every election since I’ve been eligible, which means I’ve put an X beside more than a few candidates’ names.

Once, I even cast my ballot outside. The school polling station had a viral outbreak, so voters, especially pregnant ones such as myself, were given the option of voting just outside the gymnasium doors. I scratched my X under a sunny sky, a good metaphor for the kind of voter I am: an optimist.

I value my right to vote, but that’s not to say I haven’t been terribly disappointed with the results. I understand voter cynicism. Voter apathy, on the other hand, is something I’ll never comprehend. Why isn’t the citizen who is entitled to his or her own X using it?

On Oc. 27, we will elect school board trustees in the municipal election.

Trustees respond to the concerns of parents and students. They play key roles in developing and reviewing policies, participating in the budgeting process, approving the purchase of land and buildings, and recruiting the director of education, just to name a few. If you have school-age children, these issues affect you directly.

Those with children in the public board will see big changes as seven of the 11 incumbents stepping down. The public board will welcome its newcomers by saddling them with an astounding 16 school closures, three of which are complete.

Just as Mayor Bob Bratina grumbled recently, “I inherited a mess,” the same gripe will apply to the bushy-tailed trustees who’ll have to appease parents who are rightfully upset over the dismantling of their school communities. It’s an “inherited mess,” all right, but lack of funding and declining enrolment will prevent them from cleaning it up anytime soon.

This should serve as a cautionary tale for the relatively quieter separate school board: Particularly when times are tough, it really does matter whom you’ve chosen as your trustee.

Every election is an opportunity for cynics to embrace optimism. It’s a chance for the disengaged to make use of their privilege and power.

Yes, it’s a small power — one small X — but it’s yours and consequently your children’s.

So please bear with me while I repeat the trite message of “Please vote on election day.” It may be worn and tiresome, but given the poor voter turnout, it remains completely necessary.

Elizabeth King is a Mountain resident and mother of three.

If you would like to write in this space, call editor Gord Bowes at 905-664-8800 ext. 335.

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