Surprised! That’s the most poignant comment we have for the result of Monday night’s election in Sylvan Lake.
We definitely predicted a much closer outcome in the mayoralty race. In fact, we were so out-of-touch that we thought it would be a toss-up which candidate was selected winner, based on how many electors were convince to vote. Both candidates had plenty to recommend them to the job of guiding our community during the next four years.
However the real surprise was the total lack of interest shown by over 6,500 residents of Sylvan Lake.
Just 2,855 ballots were cast in the election while there were an estimated 9,500 eligible voters, according to town figures. That calculates to a voter turnout of just 30.01 per cent, and is down from 31.2 per cent who marked their ‘X’ to select the last mayor and council.
It’s been said that a close mayoralty race is likely to spur more voters to take the time and make the long journey to the community centre to cast their ballot. We thought the decision presented to our community Monday would have been that spur. Somehow we were wrong.
Ten candidates vying for six councillor positions, all out campaigning, meeting new people and engaging our residents, we felt should have also added to interest in who will guide our future.
The one thing we can draw from the dismal response, though, appears to be that two-thirds of our community is happy with the ways things have gone over the past three years and don’t see a need for much change in the future.
Those who did vote, however, clearly selected a young mayoralty candidate, Sean McIntyre, who’s promoted change and greater engagement with the public. It seems he’ll have a long road to climb to achieve his goal of garnering reaction from what appears to be an apathetic community.
You know, it’s interesting when we review stories of recently past elections, that in May 2011 voter turnout in Sylvan Lake was 47.3 per cent to return Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen to the House of Commons. A similarly high percentage of people in Sylvan Lake voted during the provincial election in April 2012 when Wildrose candidate Kerry Towle was elected MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Such a disconnect between the provincial and federal contests and the local election race. Yet, everything we hear is that people are more connected to the local politicians because they’re at the grassroots. What will it take to create a race interesting enough to get local residents involved in local decisions?
It was gratifying to note as results trickled in from Monday night’s election that there was lots of interest from the Sylvan Lake News Facebook followers.
Our ‘like’ number climbed over 900 with 52 new people ‘liking’ our page in the 24 hour period after the time we began posting up-to-the-minute results.
On our first listing of Sylvan Lake election results, 4,594 people saw the post which “officially” proclaimed McIntyre the town’s new mayor. The post with the final vote was seen by 1,741 people. All those were informed of the bare details before our paper was printed. But for more detailed information we’re sure they’ll be reading the paper and checking us out online at www.sylvanlakenews.com. If you haven’t ‘liked’ us yet, check out Sylvan Lake News on Facebook. After all we spend considerable effort maintaining our reputation as the trusted ‘news’ source for Sylvan Lake.