Get informed and get involved

Denis
Denis Mahoney
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The Stanley Cup finals were a significant event in my house. Yes, it was a couple of weeks ago, but every time I think of my beloved Bruins in those last few seconds of the game, my gut drops.

I know there are many Leafs fans out there who feel the same way about their knockout game.

When I was watching that game though, I was tense. I shouted at the TV more than once.

The crowds in the stands were the same; the electric feeling in the stadium could be felt in my living room.

A little while later, after the shock and disappointment wore off, I realized something. All that anxiety, all that emotion was all about a game.

I wonder what if we all got that worked up about other things? What if we were all breathless and emotionally invested in our city, our quality of life?

Well, we do get riled up about traffic and the occasional building development, but not in the same way and certainly not about election issues or who we’re voting for.

When we compare the passion that fans have for professional sports, comic book-based summer blockbusters like “Superman” or “Iron Man” or a sold-out Sting concert that leaves you humming along for days to the feeling of participating in democracy, we don’t really get the same feeling of excitement.

And we certainly don’t talk about it for days on end.

We don’t post on Facebook how we feel about regionalization or tweet about which candidate has promised to put sidewalks on a main thoroughfare.

But that’s exactly how people should feel when they’re voting. Riled up, excited, anxious about the results. Unfortunately, most of us are pretty apathetic.

What if everyone was passionate about the people they were selecting to make sure our public funds were taken care of; that garbage collection is efficient?

Would this be a better city?

The St. John’s Board of Trade has been talking about municipal issues for several years now, officially making municipal government a focus in 2009.

The board talks regularly about how having more density in our subdivisions would result in better snowclearing; how having commercial real estate in your neighbourhood would make you healthier; how we should all be demanding better from our elected officials.

This year, that onus goes back on you — the voter and taxpayer.

This year the board is issuing a challenge. Get informed and involved in the process.

Whether you’ve decided to throw your hat in the ring for councillor, to question those seeking your vote at your doorstep, or to actively support a candidate, our board challenges you to get excited about this beautiful place we call home and who we want to represent us all as we head into the next four years.

We’ll help. Our extensive research and community partnerships are available to you. We’re working with The Telegram to get candidates’ messages out through a survey we’ve collaborated on. We’re going to be talking about four essential issues in the coming weeks.

We’ll hold a mayoral debate in September and share information through our social networks and online.

Why do we care? Because Board of Trade members are your neighbours, your friends and the people who volunteer in your community. We believe apathy is not an excuse to not be involved. Indifference is not an excuse to not participate.

So when you come across a candidate at the Farmer’s Market or at the soccer pitch, ask them how they plan to address public pensions, whether the region’s communities should be working on a shared recreation master plan, or how they plan to make it easier for companies to set up shop in our city.

These issues do affect you. They affect your family and yes, your vote counts. Every. Single. One.

So get excited. Argue about the candidates around the dinner table. Teach your kids about civic involvement. Make this fall’s election water-cooler talk. Make up your mind about a candidate’s positions, not just their posters.

Because if you don’t care about who makes decisions on your behalf this fall, you won’t get a say on which issues end up on your doorstep.

Denis Mahoney is chairman

of the St. John’s Board of Trade.

Organizations: Board of Trade, The Telegram

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  • Iceberg
    July 19, 2013 - 21:37

    Well done. Hit the road now and engage other town and communities outside the overpass... Quality Leadership is in demand.