From left

From left

Victoria mayor hopeful launches vote pledge campaign

Lisa Helps hopes to engage eligible voters who failed to cast a ballot in the 2011 municipal election

Victoria Coun. Lisa Helps is taking a page out of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s playbook and launching an online voter engagement campaign ahead of next fall’s election.

Helps’ website, votepledge2014.ca, aims to engage the 73 per cent of eligible Victoria residents – many of those younger voters – who failed to cast a ballot in the 2011 municipal election.

“It’s about engaging younger citizens to become part of the glue that holds their community together, and about reinvigorating democracy at the local level,” said Helps, who intends to run for Victoria mayor in November.

Campaign organizers hope to bring neighbours together at a grassroots level to discussion everything from sewage treatment to downtown vibrancy to community centres well ahead of candidate debates next fall, Helps said.

“If you’ve never organized a gathering in your house to explore these issues, why not now,” she said.

Jeremy Loveday, Victoria’s youth poet laureate mentor and an established spoken word poet, is supporting the campaign because he’s witnessed a disconnect between young people’s passion and their apathy with voting.

“I think a lot of citizens don’t know exactly what municipal governments do and how much power it actually has,” Loveday said. “A lot of people think youth are apathetic. They’re really not. They’re actually really passionate and informed, but they’re not voting, so there’s a gap there.”

Loveday spoke at the launch of votepledge2014.ca at the Victoria Public Market Wednesday.

While the campaign is targeting Victoria residents and administered by Helps’ mayoral campaign team, she said the site will still allow people from outside B.C.’s capital to join as well.

“It doesn’t say anywhere you need to be in Victoria to sign up,” she said. “If a lot of people do, that would really speak to a desire for change.”

Visit votepledge2014.ca for more information.

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