Breaking down the barriers for 2018 municipal elections
'Municipal government … has never tailored itself to pulling people like me in. So I'm pulling myself in.'
With municipal elections coming up across P.E.I. next year, some people are starting to think about getting involved.
In Charlottetown Wednesday evening, about 30 people gathered to talk about municipal elections and what barriers there are that prevent people from running or getting involved with campaigns.
"I think that right now there's just a palpable feeling that people need to be involved," said Katharine MacDonald, co-organizer of the event.
'Barrier to information'
MacDonald decided to organize the event after hearing a number of discussions about municipal politics. The P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government co-hosted the event.
MacDonald wants to see more more diverse councils across the province, including more young people, women, and minorities. But she said for many people, information about what is involved with running in an election or being a councillor might not be obvious.
"How much money does it cost to run as a candidate? It's just not something that is common knowledge to a lot of people. And I think there is a barrier to information that is part of the reason for the maybe exclusion or lack of access," said MacDonald.
She said she herself is interested in getting involved with politics some day.
"Municipal government, like any level of government, has never tailored itself to pulling people like me in. So I'm pulling myself in," said MacDonald.
Finding out what people want to know
The purpose of the event Wednesday evening was to give people a chance to share their thoughts and questions.
"It's more finding out what people need, and what people want to know, and then future events can focus maybe more on that action and … getting that information to people," said MacDonald.
The P.E.I. Coalition of Women in Government plans to hold a number of other events leading up to the municipal elections in November of next year. Information gathered from the event Wednesday evening could help to inform what is covered at future events.
Carly Martin, who lives in the Parkdale neighbourhood in Charlottetown, attended the event because she is interested in running for city council next year.
"I'm trying to learn as much as I can, and get involved as early as I can," said Martin.
While Martin is interested in getting involved in politics, she said there are a number of barriers to getting involved.
"I'm a mother. So there's the barrier of time. What does it mean to get involved in something like this? I have work, I have children. And so how much time would I be expected to put toward this?" said Martin.
She said talking with others, and hearing that they have similar concerns was helpful.
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