Today is the day! So pull up your socks, tighten your pants, and get ready to V-O-T-E for your city. I had another lengthy chat with Austin Knopp and Haroon Ahmed about this election and what it means for our city. I urge you to check out their videos and blogs on the website YegNation so that you can be better informed on municipal government and the election on October 16.
Macalan: Why is voter/political apathy so predominant in people today? Do you foresee a shift in that thinking?
A.K.: Yes and no. I do think people care about things, but I also think politics has a negative stigma. I used to be a car salesman, so I’m used to the idea that what I’m doing isn’t necessarily going to be widely accepted as something people can get behind. There’s a similar stigma behind politicians; I think it’s improving, but we have a long way to go. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but people ages 55 and up are about 80% of the voting population.
H.A.: Only 35% of people voted in the last municipal election. I believe Edmonton is the youngest city in North America, and if that’s the case, then it’s clear we have a lot of power as young people. If we don’t use it, we will not be heard. We want people to actually participate in politics because if we don’t vote, our voice doesn’t get heard, and our issues and futures are just ignored.
Are you successful at YEGnation?
A.K.: Yeah, and there’s no doubt about that. In the most basic sense of trying to get the candidates involved, we started off with it being kind of difficult to get in touch with people and people not really knowing what we’re doing. Now Scott McKeen’s people reach out to us. Having their people reach out to us to do an interview for an incumbent council right now is so special in moving this forward.
What are you trying to inspire young people to do/be like?
H.A.: For one thing, we want them to vote and get involved with politics. Generally, we really want to see young people get involved with Edmonton. This is a beautiful city; this is my city. I’ve lived here for 20 years and I grew up here. I want to see the city become amazing, and politics is just one way to get involved in Edmonton. There are a ton of different ways to get involved: people do their own different things to make the city a better place. We have the music community and the arts community. One thing that’s really nice about politics is that it really only takes you around half an hour to form an opinion and decide how you want to vote, and then it takes another half an hour to go and vote. So you spend an hour to make a difference that lasts 4 years. All the communities are making a commitment, and you can make a difference from just an hour of work. The biggest thing I want to see young people do is want change.
After our interview, I felt a great deal of pride for my city. Not only was I more educated, but I wanted to get even more educated about the city and our municipal government. We, the young people, are the future. I so often hear young people complaining about “the way the world is” yet they do nothing about it. This is our time and our Edmonton. Go vote and talk with your counselor if you really want to change your community. Stop with the adolescent apathy and be an adult. We are the means of change in the world if we want to be. My charge to you, Concordia students, is GO VOTE. Today is the day, and Edmonton is worth your time.