Editorial – Where are the candidates?

It has been a slow nomination period for candidates for the upcoming 2022 fall municipal election. Out of the six municipalities that make up the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry – only one has enough candidates to fill all available seats – barely. Casting a wider gaze at municipalities neighbouring SDG, the same issue of a lack of candidates exist. Elections for school board trustees across Ontario are primarily a one horse race. It is a sad state of affairs for the level of government that has the most direct impact on the day-to-day lives of people.

At publication deadline, with less than two weeks remaining until nominations close, only North Stormont and North Glengarry have enough candidates to fill all council vacancies. South Dundas is one councillor short, North Dundas two councillors, South Stormont is devoid of a deputy mayoral candidate, and South Glengarry one councillor. Considering that all councils in SDG excluding North Glengarry have five council seats – that is not a lot of choice or diversity in candidates offered to voters this fall. The same can be said for school board trustee elections. While many school board positions are acclaimed each election, to have so many municipal council seats appear at this time to be acclaimed or left vacant is discouraging.

There are many reasons why this apathy towards municipal and school board elections exists this year. Fatigue – the current and previous two municipal elections have fallen on the same year as provincial elections. Burnout – from the two-and-a-half years (by election day) of the COVID-19 pandemic still has many people disengaging with news and politics. Vitriol – specifically the lack of civility and even basic human manners towards politicians and the so-called “political class” is often rampant.

Fixing Fatigue and Burnout are not easy, but are straightforward. Moving provincial elections to different four year cycles solves having two elections the same year. Burnout from the pandemic will wane the further we get from the peak of public health restrictions, and the end of successive wave after wave of reinfection.

Solving vitriol is the most difficult task. Vitriol, fueled by misinformation and conspiracy theorists, fake news sites and photo blogs, all have damaged people’s connection with the governments (regardless of level) that they elect. Despite the conspiratorial views of some, government at all levels is elected by the people and represents their views and community. If you fail to participate in the process, by default you help elect a government that does not represent your views. The best way to have a government represent what you want and need in your community is to get involved.

Engaging in the process, as a voter or even as a candidate is the best way of ensuring our democratic institutions remain representative of our community.

Note – Following publication of this editorial, one new candidate filed nomination papers in South Dundas.

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