All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

Yay! Election time is coming!

Steve Campbell

It is time for reflection, on how our current Council has served us. We probably have different views on this. If your councillor did something good for you – like fix a parking ticket, or get your son out of jail – you’re probably pretty happy. If your councillor kidnapped your child and held him/her for ransom – probably not happy.

Just kidding. I’ve never had a councillor fix my ticket (wink, wink). But seriously, councillors are high profile. We can say really stupid things out loud, and we are dismissed as a random jerk who had too many piña coladas. But everyone who assumes public office can say stupid things, and they need to answer for it.
This happens way too many times, because we do not elect our councillors based on amazing skill and competence.  In God Honest Truth, I have no idea what drives people to elect their councillors.
Choosing Something
You have the right to vote. You also should know what you are voting for. So you need to ask yourself some serious questions:
1) Do I know who my current councillor is? Do I need to look up my Ward number, because some idiot took away the names of the places we live in, and replaced them with meaningless numbers?
2) Can I write a list more than zero numbers long in which my councillor has helped me?
3) Do I care what Council does, more than my clogged toilet? I mean, Council goes on, but if I don’t get this fixed, I doubt a councillor will help me. (Trust me, they won’t.)
4) Do I follow in detail every action Council makes, and object to it?
5) Do I read all of the extensive reports Councillors are dealing with? All 400 pages? Do I understand any of it? Should Council give us a bullet point account titled: Here’s something else you’re not going to like?
6) Do you send your concerns to councillors by phone or email and never, ever receive a reply?
7) If I live in Ameliasburgh, do I give a damn what happens in the other Wards?
If you answered ‘No’ to five of these, then it is proof that you live in the County. Because, really, we just live our lives, doing what we do, and humming cheerfully to ourselves, until Council says: “Here’s a screwball idea which affects you. We’re in your backyard, and things will never be the same again.”
Then everybody is up in arms. I’ve always said: “Throw an idea on the table, and you will have five protest groups formed within 24 hours.” This is not a bad thing; it is in fact what Council claims to want: community input. We know they don’t actually want community input, but it’s a polite way to pretend to listen, then do what they damn well please. And it’s a great opportunity for them to use powerpoint displays and whiteboards, which they have a load of.
The candidates are now assembling and, I say sincerely, they are running for the right reasons. 1) They care about their community and want to help, and 2) They think their current councillor is a wing-nob, and can’t bear another term listening to their BS.
So, what to do?
Elections are always a surprise to me. That’s because sometimes people are a surprise to me. When I see the results, I tend to go: Good, good, are you kidding me?!” Everyone has a right to vote, but sometimes I go, “Really? You thought they did a great job?”
I should qualify that by saying that there are councillors I respect. I don’t dislike the others, but they don’t seem to fit into what I consider a positive move forward for our residents. I occasionally write about that.
I guess the thing is: We all get to choose. None of us can form a ‘Dream Council’ based on people we think would be great around the horseshoe. We kind of get what we get. It’s like when you make a great meal, you shop for all the right ingredients, and the recipe is terrific, and everyone is happy vs. taking anything you find in the fridge, stuff you had forgotten about, including the celery you didn’t know you had, which is limp but not apparently mouldy, and some cheese which would work if you cut the funky parts off, and a jar of olives which came with the fridge when you bought it.
This is the kind of stew we create when we vote. We get people from every corner of the County, with different concerns, mixed with people with different approaches and agendas, different backgrounds, and totally different ways of thinking.
In a pure world, this would work great. Mix all those ideas and concerns and come up with the best damn solution ever!
But no. Mostly Council takes a read of the room. Sad thing about councillors (and members of any committee I’ve ever been on) is that everyone has a voice. Trouble is (as with committees) sometimes people have nothing to say (except ‘What Ifs’), but can still hold the floor and be heard. At the end of the day, somebody weighs the pros and cons of the room, and sends it back to staff, who are paid to do what Council is not capable of: Making a decision.
I know, I know, this is democracy. But is it? Really? Are we voting for people who can make decisions? Maybe we should be able to elect County staff, and cut right to the source. Take out the middle man as it were.
No matter how you cut it, casting a vote is either a thoughtful process, an angry process, or a process without any thought at all. The only thing for sure is: We get the government we deserve.
  • 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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