Democracy depends on engaged citizens

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A healthy, functional democracy requires an engaged and informed citizenry.

Apathy, complacency and indifference are toxic roots that can undermine and rot the foundation of all levels of government.

As you may or may not be aware, municipal elections in Alberta are just around the proverbial corner.

On Oct. 16, eligible Sundre residents will have an opportunity to help shape the future of their community by electing the local leaders ó a mayor and six councillors ó who will for better or for worse steer the municipality for the next four years.

The impending municipal election marks the second time Sundre will choose a council for a four-year term. Prior to 2013, elected municipal officials served for three-year terms.

While criticizing the decisions of council seems to come effortlessly for some people, actually sitting in the hot seat is no easy feat. So anyone who seems convinced he or she could do a superior job compared to past councillors and mayors should seriously consider stepping up to the plate.

But don’t run on a one-issue platform such as “lower taxes!” with the impression that a single member of council can single-handedly make decisions. Anyone hoping to be elected must keep in mind his or her voice will only be one of several others, and that important motions cannot be carried alone. Building consensus in the face of controversy can actually be one of the greatest challenges for a council to overcome.

If you feel up to taking on that challenge, nomination day is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 18. Nominations will only be accepted that day at the municipal office between 10 a.m. and noon.

An election candidate package has been developed to help candidates prepare for the general municipal election, and hard copies are available at the town office during regular business hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Anyone with additional questions regarding nomination or election procedures is encouraged to contact Katherine Taylor, returning officer, at 587-444-0552.

While not everyone is in a position to run for council, eligible voters have ó perhaps shy of a terminal illness ó no excuse not to make an effort to stay informed and to cast a ballot come election day.

Voter engagement in Sundre ó as in many smaller municipalities ó has historically left a lot to be desired, with turnouts rarely reaching much more than approximately a third of eligible voters.

So this year, let us raise the bar and set a new trend by smashing all previous local records at the ballot box.

See coming issues of the Round Up for features on the candidates who plan to run for council.

Meanwhile, visit the municipality’s official website, www.sundre.com/elections.html, for more information.

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About Author

Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel is the editor of the Sundre Round Up and a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.