Municipal elections: make your vote count

Across BC, municipal election campaigns have moved into high gear as voters get ready to mark their ballots on November 15th. For some voters the prospect of yet another election is a bit bewildering. In Vancouver, for example, there have been three elections in the last month: a federal election in mid-October, provincial by-elections in two Vancouver area ridings, and now the civic election.

While there may be many things in life to grow weary of, democracy isn't one of them.

Municipal elections provide an opportunity to shape the community in which you live. Through our municipal councils, we can control the pace and quality of growth in our communities. Municipal councils can also be a catalyst for greater inclusion in the decision making process that a community adopts. Municipal elections are an important entry point for many activists within our community who gain valuable experience at the local level-experience that enables them to later take on the challenge of running for provincial or federal office.

For post-secondary educators, this year provided some compelling evidence of why we need to pay attention to municipal elections. When the provincial government decided in mid-March to blindside the public post-secondary education system with across-the-board cuts to operating grants, it was municipal councils that became important allies in our fight-back campaign. Our locals appeared before their councils asking for their support. Many councils passed resolutions of support and wrote letters to the Minster of Advanced Education and, in some cases, Premier Campbell as well.

Unfortunately, voter participation in municipal elections falls well-short of what it should be. In many municipalities, fewer than a third of eligible voters cast ballots. That's a disappointingly low turn-out, and it reminds all of us that democracies work best when citizens are active and engaged.

The labour movement is playing its part in mobilizing member interest in the November 15th vote. Local Labour Councils-there are 22 across BC-have developed information profiles on candidates in their area. The Labour Councils have also drafted lists of endorsed local candidates. FPSE has circulated that information to all our locals.

Now it's up to voters to make their voices heard. Do your part; find out more about who is running in your community. But whatever you do, make sure you get out and vote on November 15th.

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.