Exercise your franchise

As the recent Telus vote showed, every vote does count. So when the municipal election day arrives Nov. 19 and you decide you'd rather stay home than pop into the voting booth, think back to the generations of people before us who fought so hard for the right to vote.

I find it especially frustrating when women take their right to vote for granted. A hundred years ago, we didn't have the option. But the suffragette movement changed that.

One English woman named Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under a king's horse during a 1913 derby to demonstrate her right to vote. She also went to prison during the movement. Whenever one of my friends tells me she's not planning to vote, the image of that woman getting trampled by a horse comes to mind. I'm not certain if some women take their right to vote for granted or if they just can't take the time to get informed on the candidates. Here on the Coast, we don't have as daunting a list of candidates as in the Lower Mainland. And Coast Reporter is making things easier for voters by running candidate profiles.

Plus you could come to an all-candidates meeting. If you're lucky, maybe they'll even serve refreshments. You could ask for voting advice from an informed friend. Or if there are issues important to you, call up the candidates and ask them where they stand. It's their job to be available to hear your concerns.

The people of Pender Harbour, Egmont and Roberts Creek are off the hook in choosing an SCRD director, because John Rees and Donna Shugar have won by acclamation, but you do need to decide on a school board trustee. Meanwhile, voters in Sechelt are facing a dilemma with new Sechelt Electors' Association (SEA) candidates running. To make waves or to not make waves. Gibsons has a whole new slate of candidates running for council seats.

Choose the people you think will represent your interests while sitting at the table. Not everyone has time to sit through local government meetings each week, so find representatives you can trust.

For example, while living in Pender Harbour this summer, I was impressed with how well John Rees made sure the north end of the Coast wasn't neglected in board discussions, while also participating in region-wide issues. And although Pender is the butt of all the jokes at the board table (such as, why do we need kennels in the south Coast areas when we could just let our dogs run loose in Area A while we go on vacation), Rees always defends the area. If you don't vote, for the next three years you can't once complain about things such as tap water or parks, because you had your chance to play a part in the decision making.

So next Saturday, stop by your local voting place while you're out walking the dog or on your way out to a party that night.

By no longer restricting voting rights to male property owners, our local governments can more proportionally represent a community's diversity.

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