It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and the upcoming election is a golden opportunity to light a whole bunch of candles. Here's how to get started.
By Jason Allen
Published July 20, 2010
So I have been reading with much enthusiasm over the last few weeks the firestorm that has erupted on Raise the Hammer over the stadium location issue. Invariably, there are 30, 40, at one point even 70 comments, with most being a variation on the theme council is dysfunctional, throw the bums out.
Yet a quick look at the City of Hamilton's election website shows an alarming number of seats in this fall's Civic Election that are still uncontested, and voter turnout in the 2006 election was 37 percent.
Let me say that again: The direction of Hamilton's government - the City Hall renovation issue, the parade of jobs out of our city, the Aerotropolis disaster in the making, and even the stadium location - will all be presided over by a group of people who had the support of about one-third of Hamiltonians.
So what can one person do?
Well, here's something. As the saying goes, it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, and here is a golden opportunity to light a whole bunch of candles.
Hamilton Civic League is going door to door across Hamilton to ask regular, everyday people what they think about their city. How it should be run, and what is important to them.
Then - and this is the big then, the part that saw Guelph's 12-person-stuck-in-their-dysfunctional-ways council get tossed out on its ear - they are going to compare the voting records of each councillor to the values expressed by respondents to the survey.
And they are going to publicize the heck out of that comparison. The media is on board, and raring to go. All they need is the data.
I often hear people say, "I don't vote, because it doesn't make a difference."
Fred Eisenberger was elected by 452 votes. The really scary part was that on my way to the polling station in 2006, I said to my partner, "I'm going to register a protest vote, and spoil my ballot or something, 'cause Di Ianni's going to walk away with it again."
I'm sure glad I didn't follow through on that stupid idea.
Similarly, if 453 people had said that night "oh, my vote doesn't count" and stayed home, we might still have Larry as Mayor, and the Aerotropolis would already be a done deal...and who knows what else.
So not only can you make a difference by voting, you can make a huge difference by helping your fellow Hamiltonians get engaged in the electoral process.
What's it going to cost you? About an hour of walking around in the sunshine and getting to know your neighbors better. Hell, you should be paying them for the privilege.
So click on the link, fill in your volunteer form, and let Kim know you're good for an hour or so. They need over 100 volunteers, and right now they've got about 20.
Unless you want the same 37 percent of voters deciding how this city is run in three months' time, you'd better start moving. Online indignation is not enough. It's time for action.
This article was first published on Jason Allen's personal website.
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