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Should the people decide?

Steve Campbell

I know it’s a while before the municipal election, but I’ll be taking a break from column writing soon, so you’ll be on your own.
I encourage you to attend candidates meetings, in which people get to ask pointed questions about County issues. Most of the County will be home watching their favorite TV programs, and don’t give a sweet damn about politics, and can’t name the councillors they have now, much less the candidates on the ticket.
Still they vote. That’s democracy. Even people who don’t know or care about any County issues, and can’t name their councillor, can vote. I could run as Mickey Mouse, and get votes just because that’s a name people recognize. “He was great in Steamboat Willie, but got a little weird in Fantasia.”
This is why incumbents – the people who owned the seat before – tend to be reinstated, only because they have a name we remember, and we have no idea what their track record is. I’m not disrepecting the voters, it’s just that, “We want change,” and “Let’s go for that same person,” has been County history for over 100 years.

We want change
But do we? I hate to break it to you, but there’s only a handful of people in the County who make big noise about change. They are mostly people who think they could do a better job if they were in charge, and so should never be in charge.
The rest of us – yes, me too – do not read the couple of hundred pages County staff produces on any given subject: Do popsicles melt faster in Picton than Wellington? Answer is yes. Wellington is always: ”The Coolest Spot when the Weather is Hot!” This means the temperature drops 10º when you enter Wellington, so your popsicle is okay for a while.

Something has changed
This is going to be a hot election. Several councillors have stepped down from re-applying. Some people were sorry; some gave out a round of cheers. This is how politics works. Love ‘em, hate ‘em. They come, they go. I’ve seen 40 years of them. Loved some; hated some. That’s the way it goes.
The weird thing is: Every Ward (still hate that name) has a contest going on. This seems significant to me. There are new players coming up. This is a good thing. If we stuck to our old ways, we would still be run by the ghost of H.J. McFarland, though he could probably figure out how to fix Hwy. 49.
I will be commandering one candidates meeting in October for BABA and the PEC Field Naturalists. I’ve done this kind of gig before, and it’s a blast. If you have a concern, show up. We open up to audience questions which might help our candidates do the right thing.
This does not include: “How do I stop my neighbour’s dog from barking from 6 a.m. to midnight?” and “Why doesn’t my neighbour mow his lawn to a proper 3.5mm?”

And this brings me to:
I’ve been in the County since I was an embryo. Even then I was sending emails to Council with my wise advice, but had to wait until computer technology caught up. Around 1995, they received an email from 1952. They ignored it. That’s why we’re in the shape we’re in right now.
That wasn’t really the point. The point is: Everyone has a point! And all those points are different. Some are cogent insights to help a situation; some are anger-powered rants.
This is the world Council lives in. I pity the poor buggers who fight hard to join that world. I admire them, for sure. Should they win, they will have a first-class ticket into a combat unit in Vietnam. Yay!
In some cases we probably need new voices. Times readers are probably more astute when it comes to assessing the direction the County should take. That’s because the Times is a forum for thought. What we read makes us think. It doesn’t mean we think the same. But observing and processing is an important part of how we decide our future. We may not agree with each other, but conversation is an important process.

Listen, Learn, Decide
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but people have put their heart and minds into doing the undoable: making the County run better. The choice, as always, is in our hands when we cast our votes.
To me, casting a vote (which I will do) is like walking into a casino. You roll the dice; see what you get. Sometimes you win, or not. In the end, we get what we get. Sometimes it’s a spectacular win, more often not.
I encourage you to vote. Any which way you want. That’s all we can do.

  • Steve Campbell is editor and publisher of County Magazine, and the author of several books, including The County Handbook: How to Survive in Prince Edward County.


Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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