KAMLOOPS — Hope springs eternal- except in elections. In the advance voting leading up to Saturday’s byelection, there were hopes that the turnout would be reasonably good, even though only three seats were up for grabs. The advance voting indicated we might do better than even some previous general elections. Obviously not the case. When the results were counted Saturday night, only 14,731 voters had cast ballots. That’s a measly 21.17%.
Based on the number of critics I see on social media sites complaining about our civic government, I would have thought we would have had upwards of 80%. A joke, I know, but still, people continue to complain but never take action to make changes, even though they whine and cry that change is necessary. It’s disappointing that so few take their obligations as citizens seriously. They chirp from the sidelines, criticising everyone who has a different opinion than they do, but when it comes time to put up or shut up, they shut up. Ken Christian, who is obviously, as a veteran councillor, one of those on the receiving end of criticism, wound up with 63.9 percent of the vote. Bill McQuarrie, who called for a tax freeze next year, and a new way of looking at financing in the City, received only 18.3 percent of the vote. So much for the idea of change. The top four councillors in the race could arguably be put in the camp of the “status quo”. I use this term, not because it's a negative one, and all four of those candidates has ideas for change. It’s hard to determine the policies of the two winners, Kathy Sinclair and Ray Dhaliwal in such a short election campaign, and they certainly have some fresh ideas to bring to the table. I put them in this camp only because they are influential people in our community through their involvement in the Arts and Multicultural fields. So they already have a history of working with the city. Kevin Krueger and Gerald Watson are certainly associated with the “status quo” because of their long history of service to this area.
If we had only been electing councillors, I might be able to see the low turnout. But we also elected a Mayor, and a Mayor who will certainly be the heavy favourite in next year’s general civic election based on yesterday’s results. It’s sad to see that our Mayor was chosen by only 21 percent of eligible voters. A larger turnout would likely have seen the same results, but it still speaks to the apathy of people who either don’t care, or who have given up waiting for change they believe should be taking place.
Congratulations are due all those who put forth the effort to seek office. It’s a thankless job, as anyone around the Council, School Board or Regional District tables can tell you. So for those willing to brave the storm, thank you for your efforts, and congratulations on your victory. And to those who didn’t make it, thanks for offering to serve. I’m sure we’ll see many of you back next year at this time.