As Monday’s election results prove, in certain ridings, including our riding of Kootenay-Columbia, every vote does count. It was excellent to see such a high voter turnout and it is a reassuring statement on democracy that people don’t just comment on or share political posts on Facebook- when election day FINALLY comes… they show up to vote!
Although it is possible for provincial and federal elections to be super close, it is a little less common than local government elections. Especially in small communities, the chances that a candidate only wins by a handful of votes in a local government election is actually much higher and more likely then people realize.
In the case of Invermere, former mayor Mark Shmigelsky was first elected to Invermere council in an extremely tight race which actually required a judicial recount of votes and consideration of ballots which were first considered spoiled.
A few of the other strange facts about B.C. local government elections… Someone who lives out-of-town, say in Vancouver, can register as a non-resident property elector and vote in municipal elections in Invermere. However, someone from Calgary cannot, because the requirement is that a person must be a B.C. resident. Equally strange, technically any B.C. resident can run for office in any community even if they don’t live there, and there is no limit on how many different positions a person can run for at the same time.
There are examples right now in B.C. where one person is part of two municipal councils, or on a municipal council and also elected as the nearby electoral area director for the regional district.
Of course, if someone is going to run for election in a town they don’t live in, they will not have the benefit of casting a ballot for themselves — and that could just be the difference between winning or losing. Congrats to all who took the time to vote!
Gerry Taft is mayor of the District of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.