The Great Election Debate

I can’t believe how hard it was for me to decide on a candidate in my ward for this municipal election that’s happening tomorrow.

I won’t tell you who I’m voting for – but I will tell you how exciting it will be to see the outcome.

I’ll be honest – I didn’t vote in the last election. It was really hard because at the time I was living out of the region of Waterloo and really had no idea what the issues were. I didn’t really pay attention to what was going on around me in that I had an apartment and we never got the newspaper. I also didn’t get out and enjoy the town I was living in so it really didn’t matter to me who got voted in.

So the last time I voted was 8 years ago. I was living in Ward 4 – voted at St. Peters elementary school and voted for Ben Tucci. I felt he was really standing up for us and I liked the idea of someone with experience on council. I had met him on a professional level and he seemed to really care about the people in his ward and he knew what he was doing.

Fast forward to this year – I’m back in Waterloo region, living in my own house in the brand new Ward 1. The ward is huge – covers parts of Hespeler, Preston and Blair. There are so many different issues and so many different types of people living and working in this ward. I guess it shouldn’t have been a shock to have the most number of candidates running – Ten. Yes 10 candidates. All thought long and hard before running in this election.

Some even got out pounding the pavement a month in advance to get the word out. All have walked through the neighbourhoods knocking on doors and trying to win votes. There is no clear leader and no clear loser in this race.

For me, there are a few things that really stand out to me in a regional election and more specifically my ward.

#1 – I want someone who knows what’s going on in my ward. If they lived there, grew up there or their kids go to school there – it means a lot that they understand the needs in our area.
#2 – That they don’t focus on one area more than the other. As our ward covers Hespeler, Preston and Blair – the candidate that is going to win my vote should not focus so much on one area that they seem to forget the other.
#3 – I want someone that understands local politics and has experience in some sort of council. I know all the people running in my ward are fairly new, but some have run for different councils or headed committees in the past. I want someone who can speak up when needed, and sit back and listen when necessary.
#4 – I want someone who is a good speaker in public. I don’t want someone who is going to be nervous and have a shaky voice. That’s not going to instill confidence in their performance.
#5 – I want someone who WANTS to be there. If they can’t come out to debates, or they say that they don’t want to be a career politician – that means they aren’t really wanting to win. It makes me question their motives.
#6 – I don’t want someone who is slinging mud at other candidates. I want a clean fight. I want to hear what you can do – and not what you don’t like about the other guy. I guess that’s more geared towards the mayoral race and the regional race.

One of the things that really worries me about a candidate is if they aren’t informed. They need to understand the limitations within their role on council and what the history of the council has been. If someone comes in that hasn’t lived in Cambridge long, they better really know their stuff. If they’ve never shown an interest in politics before, they won’t get my vote.

I asked on twitter the other day who people thought I should vote for. the majority of responses said “Election? What election?” I had two people offer up suggestions, but only one of them backed it up in facts. I take all input into consideration when it comes to something like this. Some really important things are coming up for our area. I want to know what people think so I can make an informed decision.

This was why it was really good for me to find the Cambridge Citizen. It’s a local website that has some political commentary. They’ve opened it up for all candidates to write in and participate on discussion boards. I’ve loved seeing politicians becoming real people. Actually commenting on things that I have to say.

I’ve never felt like my opinion mattered until this year.

A friend of mine is running for School Board Trustee – and I’m going to vote for him. We met online, and really that means nothing to some people, but through online conversations we met fact to face. He’s one of those people that surprised me. He looked me in the eye, he asked my opinions and really listened. I want people like that involved in politics in my area. I think Colin Carmichael is a wonderful candidate and I really hope he gets in. See his website here.

The first candidate running in this election that I talked to actually came out to an event this summer. She was running for regional council and I was really impressed that she came to a local event and actually talked to EVERYONE there. She handed out her business card and got people engaged. As a teacher, Atinuke Bankole is used to talking to large groups of people. I was a little surprised to see her out so early, it was August after all, but she got me thinking. I’ve never really given elections much thought on the regional level, but she really made me want to. I watched her video from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and I was really impressed. She knows a lot about politics and I think she would be a really fresh voice for Cambridge at the Regional level. To see her website go here.

I’m not trying to endorse one way or another. How you vote really needs to come from your heart. I just know that it’s been really exciting this year to actually get involved. To feel that I have a voice and that my voice is going to be heard on October 25th.

I am from Cambridge.
And I AM voting on election day.

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