In an effort to act as a responsible citizen and to do my due diligence as a voter by researching candidates for the upcoming municipal election, tonight I attended the candidate forum in Ponoka. There was only enough time allotted for 3.5 questions to be addressed, each of which by all of the 8 town council candidates and the 2 mayoral candidates. One of these questions was asked by a spiteful, current town councillor, and the other by the current mayor. Both of these questions could not possibly have been answered by prospective councillors who have not been privy to the same information as the current council, and wasted everybody else’s time listening to each person say they would need more information before they could answer the questions. Not to mention, how inappropriate it is for those two gentlemen, who currently hold positions within the town council, to put new candidates on the spot for issues they still cannot address after holding these positions for multiple terms.
Meanwhile, some of us had legitimate questions. Every single candidate spoke about improved communication and engaging the community, and about reaching out to the young people. No disrespect to the people in the room tonight, but very few of us young people were present.
Clearly these forums are not the most appropriate avenue to address the audience we are so desperately trying to retain and attract to Ponoka. It is no secret that voter apathy runs rampant in my generation.
If you want them to stay, you’re going to have to get their attention some other way because unfortunately they will not come to you. How do you propose to reach out to these young people?
There were also several comments about attracting businesses to Ponoka. If we intend to attract young people and encourage them to raise their families here, we must give them opportunity to earn a decent living without having to commute to neighbouring towns and cities. As a young professional, who values career progression and development, I have very few options as to where I am able to enhance my knowledge and grow in my career. Of the businesses that currently operate in Ponoka, most are merely satellite offices for larger companies where these higher level positions are elsewhere. How are we going to attract head offices and larger organizations?
If I ever had any doubts as to why our sleepy little town keeps getting sleepier and less appealing to all of us, they were put to rest tonight. Big egos and personal vendettas must go. Change is more than necessary.