Well! Now that the big annual St. Andrew’s United Church Turkey Supper has come and gone and we’ve all been well fed once again, it’s time to turn to the next major event coming Queensborough‘s way. That would, of course, be the all-candidates night this coming Monday, Oct. 6.
For those readers who live outside Ontario, let me explain that 2014 is a municipal-election year in this province – we have them every four years – and the election is taking place Monday, Oct. 27. (Here is a useful primer on Ontario municipal government and elections, courtesy of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.)
Now, as a journalist who spent many years covering municipal politics in Ontario, I can tell you with assurance that oftentimes municipal elections don’t attract much interest. For whatever reason, this year is different – or at least it is in our part of Eastern Ontario. For the past many months – since way before you’d expect people to be even thinking about this stuff – I’ve overheard and been involved in conversations with ordinary people about who might run for office and what issues need to be tackled. This extraordinary level of interest isn’t just being shown here in the GTA (Greater Tweed Area) of which Queensborough is a part; it’s also happening in Centre Hastings (a fancy name for the village of Madoc and the township to the south of it, Huntingdon), in Belleville (where there are seven candidates for mayor alone) – why, even in sleepy little Madoc Township right next to us here in Queensborough, all kinds of people have stepped up to challenge the incumbents.
Although our mayor, Jo-Anne Albert, has been acclaimed because no one challenged her, the race here in the Municipality of Tweed is not short of entrants. And that’s where the all-candidates night comes in.
From 7 to 9 p.m. this coming Monday, the candidates are invited to come to the Queensborough Community Centre (our historic former one-room schoolhouse), say their piece, and more to the point answer the questions that we local residents have for them as we try to reach a decision on whom to cast our votes for.
I am tickled that this has been organized in Queensborough (no thanks to me, by the way, though you can be sure I’ll be in the audience). It’s one of only two all-candidates nights to have been set up throughout this whole sprawling municipality, which includes the village of Tweed (where the other all-candidates night is taking place even as I write this) and the townships of Elzevir (that’s us here in Queensborough), Grimsthorpe and Hungerford (where other hamlets, including Stoco, Marlbank and Thomasburg are located). I think it is outstanding that little Queensborough should show such interest in municipal matters.
As well it should! Because here in our little hamlet, we often feel estranged from the politicians and the decisions they make way off there in “urban” Tweed. We wonder whether we’re getting the attention we deserve from those politicians (hey, we pay taxes too!), or whether they take us into consideration when making decisions. (Why, for instance, couldn’t the politicians work out a cost- and service-sharing arrangement with next-door Madoc Township so that the Madoc Township truck that picks up curbside garbage and recyclables – and that drives right through Queensborough on its route – could pick up ours too? Instead, if we have trash and recycling to get rid of [and who doesn’t?] we have to drive 15 miles to the Stoco dump on the far side of Tweed, burning up precious fossil fuels [not to mention precious time] in doing so. That’s kooky!)
Anyway. I expect there’ll be a good turnout and some lively discussion, and I am wholeheartedly looking forward to it. I hope to see lots of fellow voters there!