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EDITORIAL: It’s crucial: vote
Don’t be lulled into thinking that this weekend’s byelection for two Coquitlam councillor positions doesn’t mean much because the two jobs will last for just one year.
One key reason Coquitlam residents should get out and vote on Saturday is that civic elections are usually won by incumbents, and with the regular general election coming in November 2014, this weekend’s winners will quite likely be on the job for a total of four years.
What’s more, they get a pretty penny for the job — more than $54,000 annually, one third of it tax-free, and while they’ll have to work hard for the dough, they’ll need more than good intentions to do the job properly.
Coquitlam is at a crossroads. The city is about to be transformed by the Evergreen Line and the development that comes with it. Coquitlam is also one of the most culturally diverse communities in the region and has been one of the top destinations for refugees in the Lower Mainland.
Check the resumes of these candidates. Who is up to the job of dealing with the challenges facing the region?
And in case you’ve missed it, here are some of the issues the city has faced recently:
• Burke Mountain has been growing faster than infrastructure (schools) and was the scene of some environmental degradation last fall when run off from development spilled into creeks.
• The city’s affordable housing stock is threatened.
• The city’s garbage collection system is out of date.
• And while Coquitlam received accolades for an open-for-business attitude, it has also been attacked by some in the business community over property taxes.
Given this raft of complex issues, Coquitlam voters need to pay attention. They don’t need civic boosters, dewy-eyed idealists or hoary ideologues. They need thoughtful, articulate individuals who are up to date on Tri-City concerns, who can read a spreadsheet, analyze reports and understand socio-economic trends, community engagement and the job of a councillor.
Find out if your preferred candidate meets these minimum qualifications and then get out and vote on Oct. 26.