When politicians call, answer the door

If a municipal candidate visits your house, ask him or her some questions about the future of your community

With mayoral and council candidates now lining up at your front door seeking your vote on Nov. 19, it’s crucial that you maximize the brief audience you have with someone who may one day shape your community.

Instead of just shaking their hand and taking the information leaflet they are handing out about themselves – or even worse, not answering your door – do yourself, your neighbours and your community a favour by asking that candidate, or their campaigning team member, how they would address your concerns.

That up-close-and-personal audience only comes once every three years at the municipal level – that is, if you don’t come to council meetings or municipal open houses.

See this as your time to shine. Elections should be about voters’ needs and not just about “hiring” someone to serve at municipal hall.

That, albeit brief, encounter does not replace the impact you can have by attending council meetings where you can air your constructive opinions.

But if you’re reticent to speak publicly, please open your door to candidates. Just letting them know what you value is critical for them to do their jobs effectively.

And the experience allows you to take a more proactive approach to shopping through, in some cases, a long list of candidates who want the job of representing you.

In Victoria’s case there are four mayoral candidates, as well as 20 people competing for eight council spots.

If you missed the candidates at your door, it’s not too late to connect with them. Many are on Twitter, Facebook or have websites and blogs, and you can write them an email.

Better yet, set aside some time to attend an all-candidates meeting in your community. In Victoria, there are several trade-show-like meetings where voters can make the rounds meeting candidates.

There are other moderated meetings scheduled throughout the Capital Region at which candidates are asked questions before a large audience.

So, whether candidates come to your door or you have to go to theirs, the opportunity – however brief – will allow you to wield your voting pencil with more confidence.

Erin McCracken is a reporter with the Victoria News.

emccracken@vicnews.com