Weeks of campaigning all culminated to Monday’s election night, where a handful Greater Napanee’s municipal candidate hopefuls gathered in council chambers to await the results.
A pair of screens on either side of the chambers displayed a stoic background promising results would be posted as soon as they would be available. Those in attendance made idle small talk until, without warning, vote counts were flashed across the screen. Each of the five ward results scrolled and was displayed for a few seconds before skipping to the next, closing out with the deputy mayor results. The net result was a near even split of new faces and council veterans-four members who have served on council before, three ‘rookies’. While it remains to be seen how this group will work together, the idea of some new mixing with the old is promising. Last time around the town council saw major turnover with just the mayor and deputy mayor remaining as holdovers from the previous term and five new members around the horseshoe. That inexperience was definitely on display at times as the new councillors learned the ropes of municipal politics. Just when it seemed like they were finding their groove, the pandemic hit. As it turned out the 2018-22 council would wind up spending a good portion of their term meeting virtually and operating under a state of emergency. Talk about a baptism by fire for the freshmen. To their credit they showed an ability to adapt and still managed to get things done while still keeping the town’s finances in good shape. Here’s hoping this incoming group won’t have to face anything as remotely challenging as the last group.
For all the talk of numbers on Monday night, the most glaring of all had to be 37.3. That’s the percentage of eligible voters across Greater Napanee who took the time to cast their ballot. Given that residents had over two weeks to either log on, phone in or show up in person on election night to vote, that number is particularly disappointing. To say the results could have been much different if even just half of voters showed up is an understatement. If ever there was an election to show up for, it’s municipal. Though exercising one’s democratic right is important at any level, a municipal candidate is the one who is best served to actually make a direct difference in a resident’s day-to-day life. They’re not beholden to any party or leader. Though their powers are limited, a councillor, deputy mayor or mayor is the one politician who lives where they govern year-round and knows its constituents by name. If they can’t solve a problem directly, they can at least get the ball rolling on getting the issue presented to the right person. It would make sense that residents would want the right person in that role. Judging by the turnout however, the vast majority was content to let someone else choose for them. Those people just have to hope those who did vote had their best interests in mind.