September 24, 2016

Do not miss your opportunity to vote in LGE

Dear Editor,
”If you do not vote, other people who vote will choose your community representatives, and you will have no voice in the decision-making process. The importance of having a voice in decisions that directly affect you cannot be overstated.”
According to the Communities Ministry, Councillors elected by the people who vote will make decisions on what bridges and roads to repair or build; they will decide where playgrounds are to be constructed; they will be responsible for garbage collection, cleaning of drains and parapets, provision of healthcare services, pest control, noise-nuisance control, and all other aspects of community life. “Can anyone, therefore, afford not to vote?”
This quote is taken from a news article in Thursday’s edition of a local newspaper based on a statement from the Ministry of Communities on the issue of low voter turnout for Local Government Elections (LGE) by members of the disciplined forces.
Let me at the outset state that every citizen who has the right to vote should exercise it. Voting is a constitutionally provided opportunity for citizens to contribute to the process through which their leaders are chosen.
However I have a problem with the statement, which implies that by not voting, citizens will not have a voice in the decision-making process. In addition to those who do not vote, there are those who will vote for a candidate who is not successful and therefore will not become the elected official. Am I to understand that these categories of citizens; non-voters and those who vote for unsuccessful candidates; will have no voice… no say in the decision-making process?
Elected leaders are responsible for and required to serve the interests of their communities/constituencies and this entails taking on board the views and recommendations of all; thereafter making decisions that are technically, financially and operationally sound and feasible. All ideas must contend!
Citizens must go out and vote. In certain parts of the world thousands have sacrificed their lives to ensure all citizens regardless of race, gender and religion enjoy the entitlement to vote. But let it be clear that elected officials have the responsibility and obligation to listen to the voices of all and to act in the best interest of their constituencies/communities.

Wesley Kirton

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