Divided We Fall: Last chance to vote in the transit tax plebiscite

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The deadline to get in your ballot on the transportation tax plebiscite is 8 p.m. Friday, May 29. For those of you who haven’t yet mailed in your ballot, Canada Post is no longer an option. You must drop off your ballot at an Elections BC office. The closest ones to New Westminster are at Lougheed Town Centre (across from the H&M) or Central City Mall (across from Pearl Vision on the second level; bonus to this one is that you can drop by Central City Brewing after for a self-congratulatory pint or two … better SkyTrain over ….).

I mailed in my ballot a few weeks ago, and for me there was no doubt that I would vote Yes. If you choose to vote No, I ask only that you make your decision based on the question asked on the ballot rather than using it as a protest vote on tangentially related issues.

The plebiscite was a stupid, spineless tactic to avoid taking leadership on the difficult question of how to fund the desperately needed improvements our transportations system needs. But, we were stuck with this political theatre, and this is not a vote on whether we should be voting on this question. It is not a performance review of TransLink, or an open question on spending priorities. Voting no won’t persuade the government to spend more on education, reduce our tax burden, or find another method of funding TransLink.

As New Westminster blogger Mike Folka wrote on his Tumblr:

A yes vote is not, despite what some might want you to believe, a ringing endorsement of TransLink or its lack of voter accountability. Rather, it is the belief that if we want to improve movement in our region that we need to get serious about funding it and that a 0.5% increase to the PST (which will be paid by citizens, businesses, and tourists alike) is arguably about as fair and as stable a form of funding as any. Conversely, a no vote is really just a vote against the implementation of the tax. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not a vote against TransLink (they aren’t on the ballot) and a no vote will not magically result in TransLink reform.

(By the way, you should really read Mike’s whole post. It is excellent.)

Voting no means our region’s ability to move people suffers. That hurts you if you drive (more congestion – and remember TransLink is also responsible for roads), and it hurts you if you are using public transit, cycling and even walking (impatient drivers trapped in gridlock are a disaster for pedestrians).

Please, just answer the question on the ballot. A symbolic protest vote about something else won’t be heard in the way you intend. If you are pissed off with something else, write a letter to your MP or your local newspaper or your local blog, join an existing movement working for the change you seek, and remember these feelings next election ….

What are you losing if you don’t vote Nov. 19?

Limited edition Tenth to the Fraser buttons, reading "I Voted" and "Spoiled Ballot." Buttons pressed by http://artfag.me/
Limited edition Tenth to the Fraser buttons, reading "I Voted" and "Spoiled Ballot." Buttons pressed by http://artfag.me/

Remember that scene in “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan is explaining to Greg Kinnear why they should break up? She confesses to him that during the last election she went for a manicure and forgot to vote. That’s right, went for a manicure, and forgot to vote. Apparently this is more common that I would have thought as 75% of New Westminster’s population didn’t vote in the last election – were they at the spa?

Or perhaps they didn’t think the candidates they liked had any chance of winning, they didn’t do their research and had no idea who to vote for, or there were simply too many candidates to choose from. Maybe they don’t care about local issues, or they weren’t registered and couldn’t find their ID? There are a lot of reasons not to vote I suppose from simply forgetting to being too lazy on a rainy day.

Many people I talk to around the Lower Mainland haven’t given this election much thought yet, there are only a select few who have really been involved enough to read up, interact with candidates, attend debates, and monitor social media. Most will make their decisions based on who showed up at their door and what their campaign literature looked like, that is if they remember to go to the polls on Saturday at all.

So what’s going to get people out to vote? I thought about what incentives could be offered, maybe doughnuts or even beer. Would you show up to vote for a beer? What if the City offered everyone who showed up to vote an entry into a contest for cash? Or a $1000 credit on your property taxes? Free electricity for a year?

Nope, that would be a disaster. Imagine how many spoiled ballots there would be from jokers who really didn’t care in the first place and just wanted the free beer and doughnuts. Plus you’d have to apply for a special event liquor license, which if any of you have ever attempted know what a pain in the ass that is!

So, back to the drawing board. But let’s get serious about this. Why not attack this from another angle – what are you LOSING if you don’t vote?

If you don’t vote this election, I don’t want to hear a peep out of you for the next three years. I mean it, nothing: no complaints, no comments, no suggestions, NOTHING. In my eyes you will have lost the right to be invested in your community at all. If you find yourself wanting to gripe about recycling collection, traffic on Columbia Street or the price of ice skating at Moody Park, stop yourself. That’s right, you’re not allowed to say a thing, because you didn’t take the time to vote.

We are a community, New West consists of us. We have the power to affect change through the simple act of voting Saturday. And in a small community like ours every vote counts even more. There are lots of great resources on www.tenthtothefraser.ca, so no excuse not to do your research.

Want the right to complain? Then pony up! VOTE!

Helpful links on election day:

You may also want to check out the following links for more information on the candidates:

Who are you voting for? TF editorial team shares our picks for mayor, council & trustees

New Westminster City Hall
New Westminster City Hall

Public endorsements of candidates are not uncontroversial. Pat Tracy, editor at the Record, has publicly come out against them, and those who do share their endorsements open themselves to criticism for their choices. Those of us on the ‘editorial board’ of Tenth to the Fraser, who do the daily work of writing for the site, soliciting & editing guest posts, approving comments and interacting with readers and Facebook and Twitter, debated whether or not to share our picks for this election, but in the end we decided we must.

Our rationale is simple: we are uniquely positioned through the work we have done on this blog to get to know more about the candidates than many other voters are able to do. We have met almost all face-to-face, and in many cases have had extended conversations with them about the issues that matter to us. Because we have been blogging and tweeting about the election, we have come to know the candidates and issues far better than we would have as spectators.

We don’t believe that our opinions are “special” and we don’t expect anyone to go out and vote for people just because we tell them to. In fact, we don’t want to tell you how to vote. We want to tell you why we are voting the way we do. We hope that by sharing our opinions it will help others in the city to solidify their choices for mayor, council and trustees. We also hope that others in the city will respond by sharing who they are voting for and why in the comments – particularly those who are better informed than we are. New West politics are complex and even after three years of paying much closer attention, I know I don’t know everything that’s going on in this town. By opening the door to dialogue, we hope to better understand the point of view of those on the other side of the political divide.

Below, you’ll find our picks for the New Westminster municipal election 2011. We’ve organized it by position (Mayor, Council, and Trustee). We will begin by highlighting the candidates that the three of us most agree on. We’ll also share a few ‘honourable mentions’ who stood out. .

The editorial team of Tenth to the Fraser consists of Briana Tomkinson, Will Tomkinson, and Jen Arbo, but we’ve spent a lot of time this past few weeks talking politics with family, friends, and fellow citizens, so the list below has been influenced by the insights gleaned in conversations in real life and online, as well as information we’ve seen in local media. As I mentioned above, if you’d like to share your endorsements, please feel free to do so in the comments. We do ask that you emphasize who you are voting for rather than trashing candidates you don’t support.

These are our personal endorsements, based on our individual ideals, one-on-one conversations with candidates, reading through the questionnaires we distributed to candidates on issues that matter to you, our readers, and what we have seen of these candidates in the years leading up to this election. They do not reflect the views of our businesses, employers, or other organizations we are affiliated with in our fair city, and are our personal opinions only. We’d love your comments on our endorsements, but as is our policy, no personal attacks. We encourage positive discourse and cheerleading for your preferred candidates rather than reprimanding.

Whatever you do on November 19th and whichever way you swing politically, the most important thing is that you need to get out and vote. In New Westminster, we vote for one mayor, six councillors, and seven trustees. Vote for the ones you support. Do not feel obligated to vote for a full slate if there is not a full slate of candidates you support. Just get out there and do it and tell everyone you know to do it, too.

Mayor: Incumbent Wayne Wright

Wayne Wright
Wayne Wright

Why? He’s proactive, experienced and we agree that New West is a better place after nine years of his leadership. Of the four mayoral candidates, we believe Wayne Wright is the best choice to lead our city for the next three years.

Jen: “I’m picking Wayne Wright for mayor. He’s the best choice of the four running, and I think still has something to contribute. He has experience in the tank but is still relevant. I don’t know if I’d vote for him three years from now, but I think he is the right person for the job now, in terms of where New West is and where I want the city to go.”

Will: “I will be endorsing Wayne Wright this election. New Westminster has seen a sustained period of growth, renewal and improvement over the last 9-12 years and there is nothing in the city’s plans to make me think this is going to stop. Almost all of the allegations against his record are spurious, misleading or ‘overly creative’. Mayor Wright seems content to let his nine-year record speak for him and has been running a very laid-back campaign, especially compared to the energetic efforts of James Crosty, the main challenger. From my vantage point, Wright has consistently pursued improvement for all New West citizens, has been generally successful and had fostered an openness and transparency in City Hall that is uncommon in the Metro Van area.”

Briana: “Of the three candidates, Wayne Wright is the strongest choice. He has a progressive vision for this city, which we have seen manifest in several ambitious projects brought to life during his previous nine years on council, including “Wayne’s Wharf” (the new Pier Park) and the new Civic Centre. As an entrepreneur himself, he is supportive of small business but also has the chutzpah to go after larger employers, such as the new TransLink office that is coming to New West. He’s well-connected to developers, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing – the rapid pace of development during Wayne’s time in office has positioned us well for growth. Now that we’ve had so much residential development, it’s time to focus on strengthening local employment, and I think Wayne is our best bet on this front too. I think New West has come a long way in the past decade, and I would like to see Wayne take another three years to finish what he started, and then pass the torch to someone new.”

Councillors: Jonathan Cote, Jaimie McEvoy, David Noshad, Betty McIntosh, Chuck Puchmayr, Bill Harper

Jonathan Cote: Thoughtful, committed, family-friendly and green

Jonathan Cote
Jonathan Cote

Jen: “He most reflects my own personal blend of environmental, family friendly, developer savvy, whole approach that I want for New Westminster.”

Will: “Jon may not be the most persuasive public speaker but he is deliberative and more technically competent on civic, transportation and development issues than any other member or challenger for council. His commitment to sustainability and sound municipal practices get my vote.”

Briana: “Cote is diligent, thoughtful, committed and approachable. I’ve been very impressed with his leadership on environmental issues (there wasn’t even a City environment committee before Cote) and work with the Youth Centre committee. Plus, as the only council candidate with young children, he is the best positioned to truly understand the pressures and concerns of working parents in our city.”

Jaimie McEvoy: Driven, persuasive, kind and brainy

Jaimie McEvoy
Jaimie McEvoy

Jen: “Jaimie represents those that are hard to help. He is also an environmentalist and is a calm rational person. He is a positive person. He has also publicly said he will support a new animal shelter, and that won me over.”

Will: “Jaimie is a tireless voice for those in our city that need advocacy and services. Many on council are involved in outreach and support services. Along with Betty, Jaimie stands out as one of them. Jaimie is a persuasive public speaker and a tireless advocate for New West and municipal rights. Our positions align on traffic and the environment; he will get my vote.”

Briana: “Jaimie took a while to grow on me. I have always appreciated his stalwart support for the underdogs in our society, but I’ve since learned that he brings the same thoughtful consideration and stubborn advocacy to other issues as well. Jaimie is a political animal and seems to thrive on policy debates – not a bad thing, in moderation. I am not as far left-leaning as he is on some issues but I think he brings an important perspective and an unquestionable work ethic to the task.”

Dr. David Noshad: Positive, collaborative, green and tech-savvy

David Noshad
David Noshad

Jen: “Originally I was on the fence about this relative unknown. I’ve heard him speak at the meetings and think he is comfortable working in groups. I found him to be at ease in the spotlight, and I like what he has to say on his surveys. He takes a science based approach and I like that. Over the course of the campaign, I have decided to vote for him.”

Will: “A challenger, looking for a seat on council for the first time, Noshad has impressed me with his fluency with municipal issues (especially for a challenger), his positive attitude and his commitment to work collaboratively with whomever is elected and with all community groups and stakeholders, regardless of affiliation. I believe Noshad would be a force for change on council for economic development and promotion, contributing to an improvement to our commercial and industrial tax base while supporting sustainability.”

Briana: “I like his energy and I like that he brings a new perspective to New West politics. I’m not convinced that version 1.0 of all his proposals will fly here, but he’s going in the right direction talking about business incubation and support as a key pillar of our economic development strategy, attracting sustainable and high-technology industries to New Westminster and generally helping more people to live and work in town.”

Betty McIntosh: Strong, experienced and populist

Betty McIntosh
Betty McIntosh

Jen: “She is a tiger – she’s likely to fight for things more than anyone. She is not afraid to speak her mind. Sometimes she and I disagree on specific points but I know she does everything out of a passion for the city. She also is active and involved with the senior population.”

Will: “Long-serving incumbent Betty McIntosh gets my vote. She has long time involvement with community outreach and is ever present at events, committees and wherever she is needed. She has significant council experience and is a good source of sober second thought. Betty has sharp elbows and has been known to mix it up with other councillors and perhaps her voting record can be seen as populist but for a municipal politician, voting how you think the citizens want you to vote can be a good thing. Added benefit is her connection with the hospital and nursing, helpful in a public health crisis.”

Briana: “Betty is one of the most visible councillors. It seems like she’s out smiling at every public event. That alone is not enough to vote for a person – indeed, I disagree with her on some issues like what to do with the parkade – but I have also seen that she isn’t just there to shake hands and kiss babies. She really does seem to want to engage with people and I think she brings those insights back to council. She has used Twitter the same way, and in fact was one of the earliest politicians to begin tweeting (along with Jon Cote).”

Chuck Puchmayr: Crafty, personable and a long record of service

Chuck Puchmayr
Chuck Puchmayr

Jen: “Chuck is a proven spokesperson for citizens – and knows legislature very well. He’s crafty and personable and when I see him in the community I see the renewed sense of vigour that has come with a clean bill of health. He and I have had some good private conversations at the Farmers Market and I feel like he would do a good job.”

Will: “I have gone back and forth on this one. Pros: long record of good service to the people of New Westminster; extensive work with community groups and non profits; experience required to enter the council and need no learning curve time. Puchmayr also aligns with my views on transportation and the environment to a certain extent, insisting that commuter traffic should not be accommodated with capital projects, but rerouted and diverted as much as possible. Cons, some finger him for a portion of the delay of the NWSS replacement project. He can be scrappy with political opponents, but perhaps also collaborative. He will likely be preparing the electorate for a Mayoral run in 2014. I will be voting for Chuck.”

Briana: “I’m on the fence about Chuck. I was new to New West when he was our MLA, so although he’s got name recognition for me, I don’t really know what he was like as our representative in Victoria. Many people who I respect and who share my values have said they support him, but he was one of the candidates who used Twitter for negative attacks this election, and that left me cold.”

Bill Harper: Level-headed, engaging and sensitive

Bill Harper
Bill Harper

Jen: “Bill represents the need for judicious development. He is level headed and sensitive and I like that he represents multicultural events. I also like his approach to business and economic development. He supports the farmers market. I am kind of surprised Bill is on my list – I’ve had a few colleagues tell me they don’t care for him – but I think he’s a good choice.”

Briana: “I liked his answers to our questionnaire, particularly his comment that he wants the City to use technology to better reach and engage citizens. Bill seems more ‘union establishment’ than I’m fully comfortable with, but he’s another one who is respected by people I respect, and therefore I will probably vote for him.”

Will: “Most likely to get my final vote. I think Bill and I agree on many issues. I think he has the skills and work ethic to achieve continued success as a councillor. However, just as John Ashdown’s antipathy for labour colours everything (in my opinion) so Harper’s close involvement with labour leaves me feeling… unsure. I will have to make this final decision at the ballot box.”

Honourable Mentions: John Ashdown, Lorrie Williams

John Ashdown

John Ashdown
John Ashdown

Jen: “He and I have worked on committees together. I think he is passionate, generous, caring, funny, and willing to learn. I do agree with him that more needs to be done to encourage economic development, but sometimes his anti-union passion is overwhelming and I think he puts too much emphasis on the city doing work small business owners should be responsible for – I think a business owner needs to offer a solid business in the first place in order to be successful. Also, he has repeatedly and openly criticised the Living Wage Policy, a policy I believe in. I’m not sure I can vote for John, as much as I like him.”

Will: “I know and like John. He is tireless and selfless and works very well in a committee/board format. He has given good service to New West on the BIA for 12th St and in the thankless job as the 12th St Festival organizer. While I have my own doubts and problems with organized labour and their influence in politics, Ashdown has a single-mindedness on this subject that I think impacts his decisions on other, non related topics.”

Lorrie Williams

Lorrie Williams
Lorrie Williams

Jen: “Lorrie is a true humanitarian. So much so that I think she would be more effective on a larger scale in the non profit sector, possibly either nationally or globally. I applaud her dedication to arts, culture and humanitarian endeavours.”

Will: “In the circles I am in contact with in the city, and in the online presence, Williams is invisible. Perhaps this is okay but it makes it hard for me to endorse her. I like the fact that she won the Humanist award, I like some of her priorities, as far as I can define them but many of her stated reasons for wanting to remain on council do not resonate with me. (Wait for me Daddy statue, good idea, not a reason to be on council, rabbits, etc).”

School Trustees: Jonina Campbell, Michael Ewen, MaryAnn Mortensen, David Phelan, James Pepa, Glen Richmond and Brenda McEachern-Keen

Jonina Campbell: passionate, dedicated and bursting with ideas

Jonina Campbell
Jonina Campbell

Jen: “She is incredibly dedicated to bringing up active and smart kids. She’s my favourite candidate and I think her passion is commendable. She also acknowledges she doesn’t have all the answers but is willing to learn and brings a team spirit to the table.”

Will: “ I am very impressed by the vision and moral clarity of this candidate. Bursting with ideas, non-political and focused on the well-being of kids, Campbell is a breath of fresh air for trustee. Her active kid campaigns and collaborative attitude cinched my vote.”

Briana: Definitely on my list. I love how she took initiative to create the Growing Up Urban outdoor play activities for kids, and how she believes in empowering and trusting kids. As a teacher and a parent of school-aged kids, I believe she will be able to represent two perspectives that are important to consider when weighing decisions about our schools. She seems collaborative and yet is clearly not a pushover. She also knows how to take criticism and learn from it, which is pretty important given the state of political discourse in SD40.”

Michael Ewen: experienced, approachable and scholarly

Michael Ewen
Michael Ewen

Jen: “He’s extremely experienced and as I have quickly discovered, he is also very funny and has a lot of passion for kids. He also seems realistic in terms of what school trustee can and can’t accomplish. He seems open to exploring things outside of the box but doesn’t seem to overextend.”

Will: “Scholarly and experienced, respectful collaborative and pleasant, Ewen and I agree on many policy issues, including bottled water in schools and the ongoing role of the business company. Sure, he carries some of the baggage of the last few boards but this board will also need some continuity and Ewen could be key in this role.”

Briana: “Michael’s experience really shows in the all-candidates events. He’s relaxed and approachable, listens well and says smart things. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from him on Twitter this election, and I hope he continues with it after the election to answer questions and share insights on school issues.”

MaryAnn Mortensen: Authentic, determined and tenacious

MaryAnn Mortensen
MaryAnn Mortensen

Jen: “She’s not afraid to speak her mind, has kids in mind, and while we occasionally disagree on points, she’s authentic and has navigated through the system (PAC, DPAC, etc) with honesty and integrity. I’m a little put off by her public criticism of people she may very well have to work with and I’d rather see her focus on rising above that. It’s about working as a team for the community, not who said what when.”

Will: “Where Jonina may be a breath of fresh air, Mortensen is a kick in the pants. If anyone is going to shepherd an early conclusion to the school building programs it is the tenacious and fearless MaryAnn. She has shown leadership at the PAC and DPAC level and in her local neighbourhood (and mine) protecting Grimston Park. We disagree on banning bottled water in school (I say ban it, she says no), but, like Betty on council, Mortensen for trustee will keep ‘em honest and crack heads if required.”

Briana: “MaryAnn has my vote. We worked together on the organizing committee for Summerfest in Grimston Park and I have seen that whatever she takes on, she gives it her all. We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but she is unquestionably a strong advocate for children, and that’s a perspective I want to see represented. I hope to see her moderate her stubborn streak and work collaboratively with the board – I know she can do it.”

David Phelan: Positive, focused and respectful

David Phelan
David Phelan

Jen: “He’s a teacher and has young kids in the New Westminster system. I think his voice is needed. He’s got lots to offer and is a fresh perspective. His top issues align with most of mine and he believes heavily in collaboration. David has been very positive in this campaign.”

Briana: “I was very impressed with David. I love his ideas about introducing more hands-on learning for kids, including things like school garden programs and exploring partnerships with community organizations like the Royal City Farmers Market. ”

Will: “Again, a new candidate bursting with ideas, unencumbered with political baggage and focused on student-centered vision for excellence. He is respectful and speaks well. I think he would be a good asset to the group.”

Glen Richmond: Fresh perspective, practical, good ideas

Glen Richmond
Glen Richmond

Jen: “He’s running as an independent – he is a former cop and I think he brings some good ideas to the table. He seems practical and I think his experience as an RCMP officer and RCMP school liaison is valuable.”

Briana: “Glen kind of snuck up on me. I’d never heard of him before the election, but what I’ve heard of his ideas seem sound and I love the perspective he’d bring from his work as a school liaison officer with the RCMP. I agree with his statement that our kids need more play space and fewer portables, and I’d like to see how he intends to make that ideal a reality in New Westminster.”

James Pepa: Enthusiastic, genuine and collaborative

Jen: “I like James, and I like his authenticity and I admit I have a soft spot for candidates who represent the farther corners of New Westminster like Connaught Heights, Massey Victory Heights and Queensborough. I worry with four kids how much time he’ll have to give to the district but I think his enthusiasm might carry him and he seems well supported by his family. I am disappointed he supports the continued availability of bottled water in our schools and I hope that if elected he will be open to reconsidering that position.”

James Pepa
James Pepa

Briana: “I like James too. Though young, he seems mature for his age and genuine. He’s said he wants to reduce wait lists for programs of choice by expanding popular programs, and if he and the board can find a way to do it within the budget, it would be a great boon for kids in the district. I also like that he would support increasing community use of schools, which seems practical to me.”

Will: “If Mortensen is a kick in the pants and Campbell is a breath of fresh air, Pepa is my ray of sunshine. Talk about a candidate with the kids at heart, this is it. Active as the president of Connaught Heights PAC, positive, collaborative, funny and free of any political mumbo jumbo, Pepa could do more than any other candidate to help bring the board back to the people and increase public confidence in their work. Go Pepa.”

Brenda McEachern Keen: Poised, professional and a consensus-builder

Brenda McEachern-Keen
Brenda McEachern-Keen

Will: “Wow another newbie for trustee. I am on a roll. McEachern-Keen has a poise and professionalism that impressed me. She has expressed that she is a consensus-builder and is able to work in a non-partisan way, even with NW and District Labour Council-endorsed candidates. Her professional training in law will be an asset considering the work the trustees must to with the city and the province for the new schools, and with the SD.40 Business Company. She is a pro and it shows.”

Briana: “I was impressed with how hard Jim Goring worked to fill in for her when she couldn’t make it to the first trustee all-candidates meeting! She clearly inspired respect and loyalty. Her legal background is an asset for the board.”

Lisa Graham
Lisa Graham

Honourable Mentions: Lisa Graham, Jim Goring

Lisa Graham

Jen: “I really like Lisa, because I think she speaks a lot for kids who are not part of the mainstream system and I think her voice is very valuable at the table. She’s also all about technology. But she is too long-winded and she loses me at meetings and in her responses to the candidates survey and I find myself tuning out. I wonder if I am the the only one?”

Jim Goring

Jim Goring
Jim Goring

Will: “Like Ewen, Goring is going to know how to get the work done and how to set priorities. The work with the unions and the business company are going to need the tribal memory and practiced hand that Goring offers. All interactions I have had with him have been constructive and sincere. Besides, he reminds me of my Grampa.”

First you vote, then you party! Vote Party May 2 at the Heritage Grill

The Vote Party (AKA Green Drinks: Election Edition) will be held Monday May 2, 2011 at the Heritage Grill starting at 5:30.
The Vote Party (AKA Green Drinks: Election Edition) will be held Monday May 2, 2011 at the Heritage Grill starting at 5:30.

For a second month in a row NWEP and Tenth to the Fraser will be teaming up to host a special Election Edition of the popular New Westminster Green Drinks.

The event will be held on a special night, Monday May 2nd (election night), from 5:30-late at The Heritage Grill Back Room, New Westminster.

You may be alone in the voting booth, but when it’s all done you’re welcome to join us in raising a glass as we watch the election results roll in. If you think you’d like to come, please RSVP via Facebook or leave a comment to let us know so the Grill can plan for extra staff if necessary.

Even if you can’t make it out to this fun night, NWEP and Tenth to the Fraser still urge everyone eligible to get out there and vote! It’s your right which people are literally dying elsewhere in the world to share.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the first Election Edition Green Drinks two weeks ago, it was a fantastic night with great engagement between voters and the candidates. We’ll definitely be examining this format of event for future election.

 

Political Grinch

I need to be clear that I am speaking on behalf of Jen Arbo, here, and not Tenth to the Fraser. Tenth to the Fraser does not endorse any particular candidate.

Most Tenth to the Fraser readers will recognize that I generally write about things like gardening, lifestyles, spa treatments, local businesses, and people who don’t shovel their sidewalk. I usually leave the politic-y stuff to Will and Briana because, well, I am definitely no expert. But with election fever at an all time high and me having cast my ballot at the advance poll yesterday afternoon, coupled with the highly successful All Candidates Meeting that took place two nights ago, I’m actually paying attention to this election.

When I was a teenager not yet of an age where I could vote, my parents would agree to huge lawn signs  – and not just the little plastic ones – the enormous wooden kind that took two people and – gasp! – tools to install. I remember being incredibly mortified, like any proper self-respecting teenage girl, but I will be darned if I can remember what party those signs were for although I think it may have been the now-forgotten Socred Party. Funny how memory works. It wasn’t until years later when my parents started referring to me as “their tree-hugger daughter” that I even considered myself to be from a decidedly different political generation. 

I have always disliked politics and the grandstanding that tends to go with it. I have always felt that politicians aren’t speaking to or for me, and that they just get paid to sit around and tinker with the rules I live by and regardless of who is in power, all the tinkering in the world means very little because in the end, I’m still not rich and I’m still paying taxes. What I do know is that I see ads and find my face scrunching up involuntarily like the Grinch. “Eeeewwwww…. politics?” I say. I think money spent to grease the wheels of the political campaign machine is money better spent on charitable, environmental, or social projects. Less advertising, more money where the mouth is. Whenever there is an election, I generally only stay interested long enough to find out: where do I vote?

Once I have those figured out, I tune out. Because I can’t stand the “he said, she said” backstabbing,  name-calling that I see in mail outs, TV ads, newspaper ads, blah blah blah. I get sick of the machine. 

 STV is one of the few issues I haven’t bothered to tune out this election, primarly because I didn’t understand it when the machine started to roll. I’ve paid a fair amount of attention to both the yes and the no side of the issue, and I feel the yes side has done a much better job explaining it to me, illustrating the pros and cons to both options on the ballot. I also greatly appreciate the fact that the referendum has been appended to the election itself – thus reducing the cost (that ultimately I am bearing as a taxpayer) of staffing and running a referendum without an election to piggyback it on.

So, who gets my vote if I’m not paying attention? I vote Green in every election because I know that no matter what the agenda du jour is, or what the hot button issues are, there is at least some platform of the Green Party that I support.  I know that there is at least one commonality between my personal beliefs and that of the party I am voting for. Besides, I love rooting for the underdog. I vote Green not because I think there is a snowball’s chance in H-E-double hockey sticks that the Green Party might actually win anything, but because I know that to me, the Green Party is the least of all evils.  It might not be the best way to select a candidate – sort of like the ostrich in the sand technique –  but it works for me. I believe there is no such thing as a wasted vote, if you put the effort in to actually go and do it.

The democratic process is one I think we take for granted – especially those of us who lack personal first hand memories of losing loved ones while defending democracy in foreign countries. With apathy and consumer-driven materialism seemingly more common, and voter turn out sinking lower and lower (although I caught a tidbit on the news ticker this morning that says advance polls are showing huge turnout already – is that because of the upcoming long weekend or is that because people care more this year?), I’ve gotten into the habit of telling anyone who will listen that I am headed out to vote, as if by osmosis those who “don’t care” might just go and vote anyway. BC Elections’ current ad campaign, clearly designed to appeal to a hip and cool crowd, claims it’s a “5 minute process”.  For comparison’s sake, when I attended the advance poll yesterday, it took 7 minutes from the time I entered the building to the time my ballot was cast into the box. 

It’s often said (and joked) that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. And while amusing, there is a fairly sizable grain of truth to the adage. If you don’t participate in the process of electing, then you aren’t a part of a system that, by design, allows for complaining. I know I often feel helpless and I often feel like I don’t matter to various officials – whether municipal, provincial, or federal – but the fact is that I have the power to speak up. Yesterday I did. You should, too.

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They love us, they really love us!


In TenthToTheFraser’s short little life, we’ve made a big splash. Okay, I can’t take credit for any of it – I was just approached as a civic-aware, once-a-new-westie-always-a-new-westie girl to pen my piece for this blog only about 6 weeks ago – but we’ve been cited in the paper, recognized on other blogs, scooped almost every other major outlet, big or small, on New West’s electoral standings, and now we’ve been nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards, in the “Best Local Blog” category.

It’s up to you, New Westies – now that we all feel so bad for how terrible the voter turnout was in the recent municipal elections, exercise your francise between November 23rd and 29th by voting for Tenth To the Fraser: click the link on the sidebar, or below. You can vote once per round of voting, per computer. (Round 2 is next week – don’t worry, we’ll remind you.)

Vote Here for TenthToTheFraser for Best Local Blog

That’s a big community wave in a small town for such a short time. Who knows, maybe 102tF will become as big as the Hyack Anvil!