The biggest surprise to come out of Saturday’s election was that Willy Enns actually got more than 1,000 votes.
Enns, who entered the mayor’s race on a lark, hardly campaigned at all, and when he did showed a remarkable lack of knowledge about the issues, actually got some votes. Protest vote? Maybe, but if there was that much dissatisfaction with Mayor Lyn Hall I’m sure we (the media) would have picked up on it. We’re hard-pressed to find more than two people in a room who don’t like Lyn Hall as mayor.
So why the sizeable vote for Enns? I suspect it has more to do with the fact the public wasn’t really engaged, which is evident by the extremely low voter turnout at 24 per cent.
Hall, and the incumbents can, and should, feel validated. The election result was, after all, an indictment of the work they have done over the past four years. And they were given a very good passing grade … all being sent back to continue the good work they’ve done thus far.
The 24 per cent voter turnout is concerning, though.
There are likely a couple of reasons for it.
Firstly, there really wasn’t a mayor’s race. In the 2014 election, Hall and political veteran Don Zurowski duked it out and before that Shari Green launched an upset over incumbent Dan Rogers who, the election before that defeated Zurowski.
The races garnered lots of interest and the voters responded by getting out and voting.
Secondly, voters are, generally, happy with the direction the city is heading. There were no big issues that galvanized the campaign and the voters this time around. That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t help get the voter out.
There was no mood for change, like there was in 2014 when voters clearly wanted to shed themselves of Green and everything associated with her.
Voters, generally, are content and contentment leads to complacency. Thus, they decided to enjoy the wonderful fall day on Saturday and went biking or for a walk, or did yard work, or went shopping. They did everything but vote.
And that should be a concern for the incoming council. Firstly, they shouldn’t get too cocky because, really, none of them were elected by a large portion of the electorate. Secondly, they should be concerned that voters are not engaged. What will they do to reverse that course?
There is no doubt that if the pool/firehall referendum would have been held in conjunction with the election that it would have made for a much more engaging campaign and a greater voter turnout.
Regardless, congratulations to the new council. Keep up the good work and try to come up with a way to get more people out to vote in 2022.
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