Time to put your best ‘X’ forward

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Added: Tue, 10/24/2017 - 7:53pm
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Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor

For the first time this year, when Pontiac voters visit their local polling stations on November 5 to participate in the Quebec municipal elections, they will have an extra box to mark - for the region’s first elected warden. Advance polls will be held October 29.
Voters have a good selection of warden candidates to choose from, all with experience related to the job: five people, including three women, which is very impressive for a small region. Also impressive is the number of people running for mayor - only six seats were acclaimed and some municipalities have as many as four people competing for the position. Clearly, the population is becoming more
interested and engaged in how their municipalities function.
While the decision of who to elect for any seat is very important, the warden will be the Pontiac’s ‘poster-child’, representing the region in front of government officials, at regional meetings and tables, and they will be responsible for guiding the direction the Pontiac takes - with help from elected colleagues - for the next four years. 
Universal suffrage was an issue debated at the Council of Mayors’ table for years. This new public responsibility also comes with an increased price tag, both in terms of salary and added election costs, which exemplifies the
need for voters to take this decision - and all election decisions - very seriously and to put considerable thought behind where they are placing their ‘Xs’,
This starts with the need to participate. While voting is not mandatory, it’s both a right and a civil responsibility. Voter turnout will never reach 100%, but everyone should be putting maximum effort into showing up at the polling stations. In small regions like our own, every vote does count, and sometimes the winning candidate is only separated from the runner-up by a handful of votes.
But, turnout rates mean nothing if voters are not making informed decisions and choosing candidates based on their realistic visions, demonstrated abilities, leadership skills, platforms, political background, experience, etc.
Sadly, municipal elections in small, tightly-knit communities like our own can resemble popularity contests, where candidates are chosen for the wrong reasons: because they are well-known, because they are who family and friends are voting for, or because they are a friend or relation.  
There are numerous opportunities to become informed: attending candidates debates or reading about them in the Journal (see pages 2 and 45), visiting our website to read mayors platforms, reading the extended interviews the Journal has done with each of the warden candidates in this issue as well as the last two, or by simply speaking to the candidates yourself.
But, voter responsibility doesn’t end with the election. Citizens must remain engaged by holding candidates to their words, asking questions, and providing feedback and suggestions. 
With little time left until the big day, keep reading, asking, and reflecting dear readers, and on November 5 (or October 29), be sure to visit your local polling stations to put your best-thought-out X forward.