Whether it’s a topic you avoid at the dinner table or the guilty pleasure you indulge in at the water cooler — everybody’s got an opinion about politics and how to approach it. It is our greatest sport in this province.
Personally, I’m generally aware of what’s going on. I know the names and the faces and some of the issues. I know people who don’t think about city politics day in and out, let alone during an election. I also know a lot of people who only care that their streets are plowed in winter and that the garbage is picked up once a week.
But whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, the St. John’s Board of Trade asks only one thing of you next week. Please vote.
Vote with your heart, mind or conscience. Vote the way your mom or dad always did. Vote with your friends or vote for a friend. Just vote. Because whether politics is a passion for you, whether you roll your eyes at the election promises, or simply don’t care who wins, at the end of the day, it’s your city, your right and your duty. And it will have an effect on you.
I can’t tell you how to vote — the Board of Trade doesn’t take sides — but both I and the board have been involved and have worked to get you interested, too. Because the decision you get to make over this weekend or early next week is important. Vital, even. Some of the talk about budget growth or parks and trails may seem mundane or routine. But every decision we make as a collective in this city can be a small move toward defining this place for the future.
We all should agree that we live in a place that we love and that we want to see good things continue, and even better things happen. And that future starts with a very small decision, to be made by you: the choice you make when you fill in a circle.
The fact is, this easy, five-minute thing is one of the most important things you can do for your city in the next four years. Sitting out is losing an opportunity to have your say. Yes, you might be disappointed that the person you chose didn’t win, or you might be disappointed later on that the person you chose did win. But that’s not a reason to not participate.
Voter turnout in the last two municipal elections in St. John’s hovered around 50 per cent. That means half of the city’s residents decided they didn’t care who would shape their city for the last eight years.
Apathy is not an excuse. Indifference is not an excuse. How can more than half the population decide they just won’t bother about whether they get a park in their neighbourhood? How can half the population not concern themselves with who will be spending your tax dollars for the next four years?
I bet more than half the population has concerns about traffic congestion, and I know more than half the population would be upset if taxes went up or they turned on the tap and no water came out.
So here is my call to action. Just vote.
Vote for change or vote for the same — either way, just vote. Vote for today. Vote for tomorrow. You can hope for a better city or you can vote for one.
Denis Mahoney is chairman of the St. John’s Board of Trade.
How to vote in St. John's:
Sept. 24 is the final day for voting in the municipal election.
It is the official election day. If a voter did not mail in their vote by Sept. 19, voting can still take place up to 8 p.m. on election day.
There are three opportunities to ensure your ballot is received and counted on election day:
— Prior to, and including election day, return envelopes can be dropped off in the designated mailbox outside the first floor of St. John’s City Hall, any time.
— On election day, return envelopes can be deposited at either of five satellite dropoff centres from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
— If a voter did not receive a vote-by-mail kit, they can, upon presentation of required documentation at a satellite dropoff centre, receive a vote-by-mail kit on election day. The vote-by-mail kit can be completed onsite and deposited into a ballot box at the satellite drop-off centre.
Satellite dropoff centre locations:
Ward 1: Wedgewood Park Recreation Centre, 47 Gleneyre St.
Ward 2: St. John’s Recreation Centre, Buckmaster’s Circle (off Ricketts Road or Pennywell Road)
Ward 3: H.G.R. Mews Community Centre, 40 Mundy Pond Rd.
Ward 4: St. David’s Presbyterian Church Hall, 98 Elizabeth Ave.
Ward 5: Kilbride Lions Community Centre, Fahey Street (off Mogridge Street)