They can't cast a ballot yet, but these Stratford students are surveying candidates to help inform voters
Student club shared candidate responses online to educate voters
They may not be old enough to vote yet, but that hasn't stopped a group of Stratford, Ont., high school students from getting involved in this Oct. 24 municipal election.
The Eco Club at Stratford District Secondary School is surveying candidates in the city on issues that matter to them and their community, such as wealth inequality and the environment.
So far, the club has heard back from three mayoral candidates and 20 councillor candidates. The students shared all their responses online.
"It's our way of helping the community even though we can't vote to influence in that manner," said Grade 12 student Colin Fischer.
"It's still an important thing to take part in the process and to help inform people on issues that matter, like wealth inequality and livable space," he added.
His classmate and club member Thomas Sheldon said it also provides members in the community a quick and easy way to learn about platforms.
"It's ... a really crowded field. It's not an overly long campaign either, so It's difficult to get an idea of what every candidate is all about ... So having a centralized space … it's a very basic, easy way to … scroll through and get a general idea of every candidate and to use that knowledge to be an informed voter.
'We're just hoping that this will help inform people," he added.
Hopeful for future
In the survey, the students asked candidates what their contributions to council will be, how they plan to protect agricultural land and respond to climate change, how they'll attract new industry to Stratford and how to tackle homelessness, among other issues.
"We were most concerned with environmental issues and how we can take action on that through municipal government, but also things like homelessness and inequality we've noticed have become bigger issues especially with COVID," said Sheldon.
The students said they were surprised by the number of people who responded and took time to answer questions.
"We got a good array of responses. It was exciting to see that they put thought into each answer," said Grade 12 student Sammie Orr.
"They all came and responded to us … which is an amazing first step … I hope they take that passion and initiative and continue it if they get elected to council and they bring that forward," she added.
"Even the fact that they took the effort to put in the responses in the first place shows that they care and that they're passionate about all aspects of the community, not just those that would benefit them," said Fischer.
"There are a lot of new and exciting candidates so I am hopeful that we can have the right people in office," said Sheldon.