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Aug
22
2013
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Nolan Tells All

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A Critical Crossroad

The Issue

If ever there was an election that was shaping up to be a “one issue election” it is the upcoming municipal election.

The last three years have revolved around the redevelopment of Fort McMurray’s downtown core, and the work is underway, much to the chagrin of what I fear is an extremely vocal minority of the population.

For those incumbents on council who are running again, their success will likely be measured on whether or not my assumption of it actually being a vocal minority is correct, because if recent history is any indication, there may be consequences to recent action.

Prior to the 2007 Municipal Election, the redevelopment of MacDonald Island was the hot button issue. Massive cost overruns and construction delays had much of the city in an uproar that would put the feistiness we saw during the arena debate to shame. Many people said that council was going to have to pay the price for their poor decision making. Ultimately it was only one councilor, Jim Carbery, who lost his seat in council chambers. He fell on the MacIsland sword.

This time around has been similar with every councilor being vocal in their support of downtown redevelopment. So which one of them is going to fall on the sword?

The Problem with One Issue Voting

Immediately after Mayor Melissa Blake declared her candidacy back in June, I heard and saw several people state that she lost their vote because of “the arena debacle”.

While I respect a strong opinion, I just want you to sit back and consider the flawed rationale. That flawed rationale being everything that the Mayor has done in the previous eight years leading up to the arena vote being completely and totally disregarded for what has the POTENTIAL to be a bad decision.

The fact is we aren’t 100 per cent certain whether a new arena will or will not rejuvenate the downtown for at least another few years. I certainly wouldn’t want someone passing judgment on me without having all the facts, and I fear that the facts won’t be known, especially since the project is years away from completion.

Not only that, but I have found that a huge number of people are misinformed on downtown redevelopment. They have not attended a public hearing or gone on a website; but they have listened to what one of their friends had to say about it after about five beers. He seemed to know a lot.

If you are going to vote based on one issue, you had better understand that one issue and it better impact you greatly and you had better be right.

If you are wrong, what ends up happening is you get a ridiculously under-qualified and ineffective councilor like Mila Byron replacing an intelligent, effective voice like Jim Carbery.

Let’s try not to repeat that mistake.

The Most Important Vote You Cast

The old adage is: “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” The only time I really agree with this is in a municipal election.

A federal election has little to no impact on your life. No matter who is in power federally your life will likely not change a whole heck of a lot. This is much the same in a provincial election. Mind you, your local MLAs are generally much more accessible than your Federal Member of Parliament; however, their hands are still tied by party needs and balancing our local needs with the needs of the rest of the province.

Municipal councillors are not guided by anything but their conscience and what they feel is best for the municipality and the people that put them in office. If there is a vote coming up on something you feel passionate about you can talk to your councillors about it and that is actually extremely easy to do. You can even speak at a regional council meeting. The closer you get to the ground floor of politics the more influence the average person has.

That is why it is unbelievably important for you to vote in the upcoming election. Find the issues that are important to you and your family and ask the candidates how they feel about them. Then cast your ballot accordingly.

We are at a critical crossroads in our community. Make your voice heard on what direction you want to go.

NOLAN HAUKENESS

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