Editorial by Korie Marshall
Taxes are going up – how do you want your taxes spent?
I heard this on CBC Radio this morning from the Editor of the Prince George Citizen. The talk was about what is a good way to decide who to vote for in local elections, and one suggestion is you should try to pick someone who you think would make similar decisions as you would. Essentially, the idea is that taxes will always go up, and municipal government decides how taxes are spent, so try to pick someone who would spend it the way you would. Don’t just pick someone who you think agrees with you on one or two hot topics, because you might be surprised about how they feel on different issues.
I agree to a certain extent – I’d like someone on Council that I think would do what I would do – except I’m not there doing it, so really, I don’t know what I would do. And how do I know what certain other people would do in any given situation?
In small communities, we might know some of the people who are running for office. But not everyone in our communities knows the candidates personally, and even if you, as a resident, think you know the current representatives, maybe you only know what they’ve shown you or heard from other people. My spouse, Owen Torgerson, is running for Council here in Valemount, and as much I might like to think I know him, I don’t know what he will do in many situations. Nor do we necessarily always agree. Laura Keil, publisher of this newspaper, is married to Mayor Andru McCracken, who is also running again for Mayor. We are beginning our own, in-house discussion on how we cover the elections, since we both now have very personal connections to some candidates. We want to do a fair, impartial job reporting.
There are probably as many ways to decide who you vote for as there are reasons to run for office, and over the next month, I expect we’ll hear a lot of talk, and a lot of good and bad reasons to choose any particular candidate. It might be a popularity contest, it could be a reflection of track records, or a wish for total change, or it might be somewhere in the middle of all that.
Representing a group of people can be a thankless job. There is so much you need to know to make good decisions, and you ultimately have to rely on other people sometimes. You need to choose the people you are going to trust – trust that they are giving you good information and good guidance, trust that they are making good decisions, or at least can be honest about bad decisions.
We are never doing anything ourselves, we are always relying, or building on, what was done by those who came before us. As humans, I think we are generally ahead because of what people have done in the past, but there is a lot that has happened that was not good. We need to understand and think about the past, and to learn from it, whether good or bad, and we need to recognize it directs us now. Each of our communities have systems, bylaws, services, beliefs, interactions with other communities, organizations, governments, already in place that have determined some of our path. But that never means we’re stuck on one ride.
We are lucky to live in Canada, where we have choices, we have services, we have freedoms that some people don’t. It is not perfect, but we are free to keep trying to make it better. And no one person is ever going to be able to do that, but each of us has a chance to try.
I expect local elections will be big in our minds for the next month, as we all decide who to vote for, or even whether to vote. However it goes, life will carry on, and the story won’t be over after Nov. 15th.