The campaign signs are cleaned up. The forums are over. The door knocking is done. Election 2013 is complete.
Did you take the time to vote?
Blackfalds saw the lowest voter turnout percentage that I can remember in my political career. Between the two advanced polls and election day itself, only 17% of the eligible votes came to the polls.
The six council positions were filled by acclamation, a lack of controversy in the community and a large segment of the community being new to Blackfalds are just a few of the possible factors that led to lower voter turnout.
With both the lower number of active voters and the lack of willing candidates to run for office one must ask what can we do over the next four years to have people more active in local politics?
This is something that the council will have to reflect upon.
Our community success depends not just on the seven people who are elected – elected officials need active, vocal and positive residents to support and guide us in our decision-making processes.
It’s not all doom and gloom.
I am pleased to report that during our recent organization meeting more people have stepped forward to volunteer on our local committees and boards.
This is great news as these committees provide valuable advice to council. The volunteers who have stepped forward bring a wide range of interests and opinions to the table.
Council has already started to talk about updates in 2014 to the Municipal Sustainability Plan and discussing how to engage residents in a meaningful way so this plan accurately reflects what community members want for Blackfalds’ future.
Some people are simply not inspired by politics.
There are still ways to be involved in building our community.
Joining a local service club such as the Optimist Club is a wonderful way to invest your time in a way that improves our town and gives people a chance to make friends.
The Optimist Club has built community infrastructure like the skateboard park, the club has fostered friendships, helped kids and inspired ordinary people to become true leaders. Please call Jeremy or Shannon at 403-588-4793 to find out more.
Coaching a sports team or helping out Scouts or Girls Guides not only makes a difference to the kids involved but makes our town better as a whole. For more information on the many clubs and organizations that are in Blackfalds please call Sue from FCSS at 403-885-6247.
Family and Community Support Services can assist you in connecting with the voluntary organization that speaks to your talents and interests.
Council meetings in Blackfalds are held at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Town Office. Public hearings around land issues and bylaw changes are held throughout the year and are advertised in local papers and the utility bill newsletter.
The town web site is www.blackfalds.com and Blackfalds sends frequent updates and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.
All members of council have contact information on the town web site and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.
We cannot change our community at the ballot box alone.
It takes ongoing communication, feedback and assessment and active volunteers to build a positive community. During the next four years I hope you take the time to learn about Blackfalds and challenge yourself to become an active citizen. My hope is that voter turnout would improve not because of a controversy; rather that voting becoming a natural extension of what we are already doing – building a community up, not tearing it down.
Melodie Stol is the mayor of Blackfalds.