In this year’s municipal election, Red Deer voters got it right

As Red Deerians hit the polls last week it was tough to predict the outcome.

This election saw many strong candidates come forward in their bid for a council seat and really, it was anyone’s game.

But in the end I believe Red Deerians made the right choices.

This council will be a dynamic one.

Newcomers Paul Harris, Chris Stephan and Dianne Wyntjes all have strong backgrounds and prominent personalities. Incumbents Tara Veer, Cindy Jefferies, Lynne Mulder, Buck Buchanan and Frank Wong as well as Mayor Morris Flewwelling provide much needed experience. And with this year’s budget predicted to be one of the toughest ever, that trait will be invaluable.

I think each councillor has their own opinions and expertise to bring to the mix and ultimately I think that will benefit all Red Deerians.

You never know what will happen until the results come in and with that said I think there were two surprises on election day.

The first was how well mayoral candidate Hilary Penko did. I think everyone’s reaction was that of shock when the election results started rolling in. She was in a close second to Flewwelling.

When she first announced her candidacy in September, I wrote a column expressing my disappointment in her and how I didn’t think she took her bid seriously.

I’m not backing down from that because I still believe that to be true but, I do have to give credit where credit is due.

I think Penko stepped up her game as the election drew near. She definitely sang a different tune as the campaign went on than that of nomination day when she first came forward.

She may not have been the best person for the job, but she did create a respectable race on election day.

Another surprising result was that former Councillor Gail Parks was not re-elected.

Parks was a hard working councillor. But I think she got lost in the shuffle with the amount of strong newcomers this election had.

Meanwhile, as it is with every election, voter turnout was disappointing.

This year only 24.8% of the eligible voters in Red Deer cast their ballot. And while the voter turnout was up from three years ago, 24.8% is nothing to be proud of.

I can tell you for a fact more than 24.8% of the population complain about snow removal in the winter and taxes in the spring.

Well guess what? Those that didn’t vote have no right to complain. It’s as simple as that.

We all have a direct interest in this City – we do live here after all.

There is no reason why someone who is eligible to shouldn’t vote.

Multiple election forums are held where citizens can come and listen to the candidates discuss a number of City issues, the media consistently publishes stories, candidate profiles are provided in newspapers and the Red Deer Public Library offers a great web site where everything election can be found.

Many candidates used the local Farmer’s Market as a sounding station to speak with citizens and a number of homeowners received knocks on their doors from candidates or campaign workers. Many also received flyers and pamphlets in the mailboxes.

There is really no excuse why citizens aren’t informed – which is one of the more popular reasons why people say they choose not to vote.

With that aside, now the real work begins for Red Deer’s new council.

All of the elected councillors have issues or areas of the City they would like to see improve, as stated in their campaigns.

We as members of the public have done our job; now we can only hope these councillors put their words into actions.