Editorial: Positive engagement

One of the most encouraging stories to emerge out from the lead up to the 2018 municipal election in South Dundas is the level of engagement demonstrated by citizens of all ages.

Throughout the campaign, The Leader has witnessed and reported this increase in citizen engagement.

Discussions at coffee shops and stores, and attendance at the three all-candidates meetings were evidence that over the last 93 days, voters have been sitting up and paying attention to what municipal candidates are saying. That is a powerful and encouraging sign.

Three packed houses over two weeks for the all-candidates meetings are an affirmation of this interest. Over 650 people attended those three meetings.

While there were some faces who attended multiple meetings, they comprised no more than 25 per cent of the attendees. The rest were first-time voters or first-time participants. Compare this turnout to four years ago, when there were empty chairs at each venue.

These open forums have provided some of the most open and fruitful community discussions seen in years.

Such positive engagement about the issues that matter to the citizens of South Dundas is a good thing. The community obviously cares about what goes on. This level of attendance implies one more way of holding decision makers accountable to the citizens they serve.

Equally encouraging is the interest in the 2018 election of school board trustees.

Given the challenges that faced South Dundas two years ago, with the risk of two schools closing, and the on-going education uncertainties, this new interest in education is positive.

Municipal elections often experience the lowest voter turnout out of the three levels of government. This happens despite the fact that citizens are most likely to feel and see the impact of municipal governance in their day-to-day lives – far more than at the provincial and federal levels.

We can only hope that these positive moves from the community in South Dundas will result in a much higher voter turnout at the ballot box. In less than one week from now, we will know.

Don’t forget to vote.