From Where I Sit – The Privilege

All over Alberta campaign signs are sprouting like spring dandelions. Newspaper editors are rubbing their hands gleefully at the thought of four or more weeks of ad sales. Print shops are seeing an uptick in business as even the least engaged candidates attempt to create campaign materials.

The size of community and what’s at stake are drivers in how much individuals are forking over to get elected or re-elected. The race for Edmonton mayor is higher stakes than one of the five council positions in beautiful downtown Andrew.

Of course, the best scenario for any incumbent is to be unchallenged and elected by acclamation. Roy experienced that in 2013, but is not so lucky this time. So amid the angst of another harvest that hasn’t yet started for many, we need to worry about the ins and outs of campaigning.

A few weeks ago I designed his postcard and had them printed, cut and ready to go. It’s got a succinct message, thumbnail photo, and election date and advance poll details. The guy challenging Roy is the local crank. A guy critical of everything and everyone; a guy who bullies his way through all his dealings. Most people believe it’s no contest but if that very attitude keeps people from showing up to vote, another Trump can get elected.

So Roy is campaigning door to door, has newspaper ads scheduled, and increased his sign order. The way he’s worked for the past seven years is to deal with all questions and concerns as they arise. Many people have been helped or at least heard and know he’s a person of integrity and unafraid of hard work. He’s trying to find the delicate balance between juggling his harvest duties with the need to connect with an electorate that is also trying to take a crop off. Misreading these voters and wasting their time during an already lousy start to harvest will likely tick people off.

Several years ago the provincial government asked for online input on changes to the MGA (Municipal Government Act). I took part and recommended that municipal elections move to spring from fall. Apparently, that brilliant suggestion fell on deaf ears. Does the date matter to urban politicians? No. So why not make it easier on both rural politicians and their electorate? No idea.

In a related story, my sister is one of ten people vying for one of five seats on the local village council. She agonized over running and did a lot of research prior to making her decision. She was alarmed by the talk of one-issue candidates who intended to ’clean house’ and revisit past decisions. In this case there will likely be a candidates’ forum.

So, this time, I implore you to get involved. If you’re not running, then at least educate yourself about the issues and the candidates. If you’re in Alberta, make sure you leave the couch or the carpool long enough to vote at either the advance poll or on October 16th. In some parts of the world, people kill for the privilege, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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