Candidates hoping for less voter apathy in municipal elections
New municipal councils will be elected in communities across Newfoundland and Labrador later in September, and candidates in St. John's are hoping for less voter apathy than past elections.
Around 50 per cent of eligible voters in the capital city didn't vote in the last election. Ward 2 candidate Scott Fitzgerald said he's met plenty of people who told him they aren't interested in voting this time around.
"I have learned through a few people by going door to door that they don't normally vote, they don't plan to vote, and I always try to encourage them to vote," he said.
"I think it's a great opportunity to have your say about who is going to represent you. It's a very important obligation I feel that everyone should take part in."
Fitzgerald said with a lot of councillors not seeking re-election, it's an opportunity for voters who may not normally take part in the process to finally get their thoughts out there.
"This time around, you're going to get a new councillor here in Ward 2 regardless, so it's a good opportunity to have your say and have your pick of who you want to represent you for the next four years," he said.
Dave Lane, one of the candidates for the four councillor at large positions on council in St. John's, said citizens need to reach out to candidates who they feel will best reflect what they want to see in their city.
"If you want things to happen that are in your favour — or at least things that you have for a dream for your city — it's helpful when you elect in the direction that you want your thinking to happen," Lane said.
"You might not have a candidate out there who is explicitly saying, 'This is what I will do for you' and you say, 'Yeah, that's exactly what I want.' But if you get a sense of what they are thinking and you vote in that direction, you are more likely to see your city turn into what you really want it to be."
Voter Chris Fitzpatrick said residents should take advantage of the opportunity to tell local politicians what they think of how well they've been representing their communities.
"I say vote for anybody but an incumbent — kick 'em all out," Fitzpatrick said.
"Everybody gets upset about politicians. A lot of times they say they never tell the truth, they lie, blah, blah, blah — if you keep re-electing them, then they're not going to change. My attitude is, every time in an election, kick all the incumbents out — they'll smarten up if you cycle through that."
Election day is Sept. 24, but mail-in ballots will be sent out Friday and people can start voting as early as next week.