This past municipal election was a nail biter to say the least. As I traveled from community to community my ears were filled with information from concerned voters. What I found was most shocking was how dirty this campaign got. Considering this is the fourth municipal election that I have covered, I can honestly say that some of the antics were very surprising.
For the past twenty years I have lived in Tache and this was my first election in Ritchot. I was really looking forward to it because for once, I had a voice in what has always been one of my favorite municipalities.
In this particular case, I am grateful that with my position as a reporter, I tend to know more about what is really going on than the general population. I have sat at meetings and developed a relationship with each municipality within our readership. This helps me make an educated choice based on facts, not rumor.
Things got ugly in Ritchot. I saw piles of signs that were defaced or disappear completely. I realize that people may not have wanted someone to be reelected but what happened to the democratic process? I don’t recall it including sabotage.
What also bothers me is the level of misinformation passed about. I spoke to neighbours that were terrified that they would find out that they would be homeless because a rumor was started that if a certain councilor was reelected, he planned on driving them out like the new owners of the Oasis – one month and you are out of here. Many voters cast their ballots out of fear. This is not very democratic in my opinion.
There are some municipalities in which changes were obviously needed. Take La Broquerie for example. I am disappointed that certain candidates did not get in, however when you look at the new council as a whole, I believe there is a good mix around table. There are some veteran councilors that have a good head on their shoulders, along with plenty of new energy. I really hope that this council will get the municipality back on the right track. The residents in La Broquerie need peace and progress and I am optimistic that there are people around the table that will make sure that happens.
I think a comment made to me during an interview by reelected RM of De Salaberry reeve Ron Musick applies to all our municipalities. “Don’t try to fool the electorate by promoting false claims or ideas – they will see through it,” he said.
When you look at the final results of the election, I would hazard to say ratepayers were not fooled. And if they were, in four years they will have another chance to let their voices be heard.
Congratulations to all the new councils from myself and the staff of the Dawson Trail Dispatch.