The opportunity to hear and be heard
Politics seem to dominate these days. International, national, provincial, and now, in light of a municipal election in October, local politics. Of course, local issues are always on most people’s minds, as those are what affects them firsthand in their daily lives.
This really came home to us on Monday night when the Cosmos hosted the first of two all-candidate forums at the Uxbridge Community Centre. This forum was for all the ward candidates and the school board trustees – a huge line-up, to be sure (we apologize for the elbow-to-elbow seating arrangements, but we’re sure the candidates got to know one another better!). But the line-up didn’t deter the public who wanted to come and here what the candidates had to say. The place was packed. People were taking chairs from the offices elsewhere in the building because there were none left on the floor. Standing room only, folks. It was fantastic.
That said, we will speculate that less than one quarter of the people there were under the age of 55. This fact wasn’t lost on either the moderator, Ted Barris, a few of the candidates, or on some of the older residents. “I would have liked Ted to have asked how many people in the room were under 50,” quipped one resident. “I bet not many hands would have gone up!”
Regardless, the room was full. And people listened, and asked questions, and weren’t afraid to speak their minds. The hot topics for the evening were, in no particular order: the by-law department, cannabis legalization and whether or not candidates were for or against pot shops, by-law officers, accountability of council members, existing by-laws, the safety of school children in certain areas of town, the necessity for more communication between council and residents, the building of tourism in town, and by-laws.
No one was shy about asking questions, and every one of the 18 people sitting before the crowd like a well-dressed firing line had something to say. Some were quieter than others. Some elicited cheers, and not many incited boo’s or hisses. It was, we hope, helpful to all those who attended.
It is now almost expected that the Cosmos will host these forums (and we love doing it), and we’ve worked for almost a year encouraging the people of this township to shake apathy and negative thought trends, to be involved in the governance of where they live and work, in whatever capacity fits best. (Brief refresher – 13 Ways to Kill Your Community) We certainly didn’t expect a full house. We’re not sure if the candidates expected a full house. But we were thrilled that so many people are concerned over what this election will bring, and are taking the time to learn about who wants to represent them.
We can’t say it enough – municipal elections are the most important elections because they decide who decides the things that affect us directly. We’re hoping that just as many people come out to next Monday evening’s forum, when our three mayoral candidates will have an opportunity to present themselves, along with those who are running for regional councillor and some of the regional chair candidates. Same bat-time, same bat-channel – 7 p.m. at the Uxbridge Community Centre, beside the arena.
Thank you to all who came on Monday night. To the candidates, thank you for taking the time, and caring about this town. To the public, for taking the time, and caring about this town. We’re all in this together.