Sometimes it is just impossible to let something go unchallenged.
In this case, it is a statement made by Mayor Andrew Jakubeit in the paper that left me incensed and deeply offended by what I consider to be an extremely callous and “misinformed” comment. The offending words were: “How do you engage the public when only 33 per cent of eligible voters care enough to vote?”
Yes, it may be true that voter turnout during the last civic election was only 33 per cent, but was it really because the people of Penticton don’t care? I don’t think so. Hundreds of letters to the editor and massive protests in front of City Hall say otherwise. I also do not believe that the city has earned the right to complain about voter turnout. If you want people to come out and vote, then make it easy to do so.
The fact is, on the day of the last civic election the City of Penticton offered only one place to vote. In my opinion, this shortsightedness had more to do with the disappointing 33 per cent voter turnout than any other factor. To put things in perspective, Summerland had three voting locations, and Kelowna as many as 15.
I mean, really just think about it. When the citizens of Penticton are willing to stand in line for an hour or more to vote, or willing to drive by two or three times during the day in order to find parking, they are just about as “engaged” as anyone can get. Protests aside, the message is loud and clear; we bloody well do care!
As for considering letters to the editor as not representing a valid cross-section of city residents, and therefore unworthy of consideration, or even the effort it takes to read them, one should keep in mind that anyone and everyone can express their opinions through this medium. How much more fair, valid, and meaningful, can they possibly be?
When someone refuses to consider the words of those who chose to disagree, any effort to improve communication will simply be a complete waste of everyone’s time and money.