Right in the Centre - Build bridge, get out and vote


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

The big day is coming–election day 2022. It’s our chance, once every four years, to select the politicians whose decisions most affect our daily lives. Municipal council rules, regulations and overall decisions have more effect on our lives than any other level of government.

A few years ago, a younger man said he didn’t care about politics, didn’t have time for it. I asked if he lived in a house and he did. I asked if his house was on a street and yes, it was. I asked if there was sidewalk and yes, there was. I asked if it was on his side or the other side of his street. It was on the other side. I said, then a politician, somewhere, at some time, made a decison to put it there and it affected not only your property value but that to use the sidewalk to walk to the corner store, he had to cross the street.

Silly example, perhaps, but almost every aspect of our life is affected by a political decision made somewhere by somebody or a council of people.

A big thank-you to those who have served on council. If you are retiring, enjoy your free time. If you are running again, all the best to you and yours. Same goes if you are running for office and aren’t yet on a council.

I say thank-you to you and yours because being on a council affects your family, not just the councillor. It takes a lot of time, and sometimes a lot of frustration, to get through the pressures of council work. And, unfortunately, there is a lot of criticism and many times it can be ill-informed and it can turn nasty.

It can even turn bitter or nasty when there are real issues too. In Manitoba, there are at least three elections for municipal reeve where tensions are running very high and according to reports, the issues are real concerns. Disputes almost always boil down to money and personalities. Having been on a town council on two occasions, I have seen some bitter battles over both of those issues.

If you are fortunate enough to live in a stable town or municipality, count yourself fortunate. For varying reasons, some towns and munipalities are really struggling and dwindling. Some are stable and even growing.

Regardless of the situation, who you select for council will affect the area’s future, its growth and prosperity. It’s a shame that many elections have gone uncontested, some seats remain vacant and an appointment will have to be made to fill the seat.

In some cases, there just aren’t enough available people, sometimes people don’t want to take the time or may not be able to afford the time to attend council meetings and do council work. It can be satisfying work but it can be time consuming and very boring at times. If you like action packed activities, then council work won’t be your favourite thing for sure.

Just about every councillor has expereinced stinging criticism and often it is undeserved. Even if it is deserved, many critics haven’t mastered the art of putting their points forward in a tactful, peaceful manner.

So come Wednesday, take a few minutes; get out and vote. It’s the least you can do to make life better in your community. It’s ok to be self-serving, make a decision that will improve things for you, your family and your community. The old saying says, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” And remember, when you do complain, try to do it in a way that builds bridges, not burn them. You never know when you might need that bridge; it’s the right thing to do anyway.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.