Looking ahead as the election sirens begin to wail

With a record number of council candidates in Sarnia for voters to consider, it promises to be an interesting few weeks

So we’ve got an election looming. As if the June provincial election weren’t enough to get the stress levels up, voting starts on October 11 and wraps up October 22 for Sarnia residents and quite a few of our neighbouring municipalities in Lambton County.

One of the “issues” (and I hesitate to call it that but others disagree) is electronic voting, or to put it another way, the absence of paper ballots.

I want to be as respectful as humanly possible, but my opinion (and again, I respect others’ right to feel otherwise) is that this too will blow over.

There undoubtedly were those who once objected to the advent of touch-tone telephones and, much later, smartphones. I think we will leave it at that.

The real decisions revolve around which candidates (four to be elected for Sarnia City Council and another four for the City’s representatives on Lambton County Council) will find themselves in the decision making seats when all the smoke clears.

If history is to repeat itself, the incumbents that are running have an edge.

Simple math would suggest that is the case, recognizing in that statement the fact that there are two who are now serving on the City side that are not running and another on the County side that has taken her name out of the Council race by running for the position of Mayor).

There are 28 candidates on Sarnia’s official list for City Council; another 12 have their names up for one of the City/County spots.

The vast majority of those who will end up going to the polls will not have heard of most of them (friends, neighbours, relatives excepted). There will be a few recognizable names and a few more that have stronger than average reputations.

But having that big of a cake to slice out the four and four (City and City/County) is going make for some very small pieces.

Which means that those who do make it on the list of winners will have to do one of two things:

  1. Do an incredible amount of face-to-face, door-by-door canvassing in order to hope they can move the memory needle in the minds of voters
  2. Create an incredible amount of “buzz” on social media, so much so that any sort of “positive effect” will lead to an overwhelming positive tilt at the polls.

Personally, I don’t think either of these is going to do it for the vast majority of those who are on the list of candidates.

I wrote a while back what turned out to be a two-part column with the somewhat provocative headline: “Fixing Sarnia. Part 1 is HERE (February 12) and the follow up (Part 2, February 26) can be found HERE.

My premise was and still is that the City of Sarnia isn’t “broken” at all in the management sense. We have elected officials who rely on well-educated, trained, and competent people who do what they’re asked to do.

Can there be improvements made? Certainly. Anyone who would say otherwise is just being silly.

But the idea that you are going to remove a “wall” (really a redesigning of a workspace that takes a proactive approach) without fully understanding why it was put up in the first place?

Again, not particularly wise.

People have no more right to be in City Hall than I have a “right” to wander the headquarters of the Sarnia Police Services.

If I need something, I know where to go. Otherwise, let people do their job and focus on what you should be doing, which is to become educated on the issues facing our community (whether that’s in Sarnia or elsewhere).

Need some help?

There are some very good sources to get started, including the Facebook page organized by Jay Peckham. The link to @sarniaelections can be found HERE.

Be an educated voter. And become familiar with the real issues and what the candidates who would covet your vote are actually saying.

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