So what am I doing writing this blog?!? Well, no matter how far from home I get geographically, my heart belongs to the Cowichan Valley. I just had to log on to the internet when I could access it, to read the local papers.
Thank you to Mark Kiemele for declaring my candidacy to a wider audience with his piece in the Cowichan Valley Citizen yesterday.
Candidates and their platforms need as much public exposure as they can get.
Many of us are so involved in the every-day-a-thon of life, we aren't even aware of local issues until we find out something's going to happen that we don't like or want, or something's going to happen right in our own backyard that we're not necessary against in principle, but we want it in someone else's neighbourhood.
Many people have talked to me over the last while about how negative they find Mr. Kiemele. In a democracy, there is room for everyone's viewpoint. Who knows? His oft grumbling could even be like the grain of sand in an oyster that results in a beautiful pearl.
He raises awareness of important issues and appears to care deeply about this place and wants us to have the leadership that can help us navigate the choppy waters ahead as the world learns to do life on earth in a more sustainable and just way.
As he was a candidate in the last municipal election, I'm sure he has many ideas about how to tackle the issues we are facing. I'm eager to hear them. I hope we can raise the level of discourse in North Cowichan and do politics differently. Make it more like building a house or growing a garden than the same old tired us/them, black/white, right/wrong tug of war. That's the real status quo. Fighting and finger-pointing don't work for kids and won't work for us either.
Local government is important. Decisions are made that affect our lives everyday, right here where we live. As senior levels of government cut more and more programs, more and more will fall on our local government's shoulders. That group of seven elected people have a big responsibility. How can we help them to respond ably?
If we are going to build the sustainable communities we need, we are going to have to become better at working together. Council is going to have to do a much better job of getting the attention of residents, of sharing their plans and getting buy in or changing their plans to reflect the changing priorities of constitutents. And citizens are going to have to do a much better job of telling Council what they want, of learning what the plans are and giving their feedback early in the process. We are going to have to become a true community.
The Cowichan Valley is a wonderful place to live, but the world over, we have a lot of problems to deal with. Some issues we must address are the lack of affordable housing, liveable wage jobs, and real economic health (based more on a local economy so our dollars circulate here, supporting Cowichan families). We must ensure we have more food security, enough water and the while protecting our fragile environment and try and keep taxes affordable. A tall order.
As you decide who to vote for on November 19th, keep in mind you will never find a candidate that will agree with all of your ideas (unless you become one yourself). The onus is on each of us as citizens to find out the issues and vote for folks whose values we feel most represent ours.
My vision for North Cowichan? An aware, involved and resilient community, sharing ideas openly and working collaboratively. This is our best chance to make our future strong.
Please get involved in the process and offer your ideas. Let's get (and keep) the conversation going.