On October 15, voters across Nova Scotia elect new municipal governments. Municipal elections have notoriously low voter turnouts. Lots of people won’t vote because they think their ballot doesn’t matter. But you’ll vote, of course you will.
You understand that the decisions HRM Council makes affect every aspect of your life. You care about garbage pick-ups and downtown development and heritage preservation and snow removal and policing. You know that your municipal vote directly affects the quality of life in the city you’ll live in for the next four years.
The challenge of voting in a municipal election is that you usually don’t have much idea what your candidates stand for. You may hear some vague talk about positivity or change, but you don’t know how they’re going to represent you day-to-day. Fortunately, social media makes it very easy for you to find out what to expect.
Take the time to Google your candidates and look at their social-media accounts. Are they really interested in debating the issues, or do they squelch and ignore dissenting opinions? Are they running to build a better city, or because they’re self-entitled sorts who know what’s best for everyone else? Are they big on vague concepts like transparency, and short on what that actually means? Do you know who their supporters are? Are they cozy with the same elite moneyed folks who usually make the decisions? Are they political operators or community activists?
In four of 16 districts, the incumbent Councillors face absolutely no challenge. One quarter of the incumbents (Steve Craig, Tim Outhit, Bill Karsten, and Lorelei Nicoll) have already secured their spots back on Council. Another quarter (Tony Mancini, Linda Mosher, Russell Walker, and Stephen Adams) aren’t likely to face serious challenges.
So if you live in one of the districts that does have a tight race (like District 8 in North End Halifax or District 5 in Downtown Dartmouth) your vote is pivotal. We already know that more than half of Council will be the usual suspects. This is your chance to add a new voice, a new tone, a new perspective. Or, if you think everything is peachy how it is, you can vote for more of the same. (Or if you’re really happy with the status quo, you can skip voting entirely; that’s your most emphatic way to say “I love everything exactly how it is.”)
Take some time to research your options, question your candidates, and make the right choice. Your vote matters a lot.
For more on the upcoming election, check out Richard Woodbury’s story about the experience of being a Council candidate. He talks with rookies and veterans about pounding the pavement, growing a thicker skin, and the behind-the-scenes stress.
In our cover story, Katie Ingram explores some of Halifax’s most enduring supernatural stories. We’re very pleased to have Nova Scotian illustrator Darlene Watters join the Halifax Magazine team for the first time; she created the cover image that complements Katie’s story.