By Lucy Scholey
“All politics is local.”
In my three short years as a reporter for the Low Down, I have been lucky enough to cover a federal, provincial, and now a municipal election.
That quote from Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the U.S. House, seems to really ring true, especially when I consider how heated this election has been compared to the others I’ve covered.
When it comes to riveting issues and coverage, local politics has my vote: Chelsea Wikileaks; an ex-convicted criminal running for mayor; a scathing satirical website slamming Chelsea council; and another mayoral candidate taking a developer to court.
No wonder our pages have been almost nothing but election coverage for the past few weeks.
It’s a real horse race in Chelsea, with anti-development wild-card Anne Gazley – who recently took the Chelsea Creek housing and commercial developer to court – up against pro-development contenders Caryl Green and Marcel Gauvreau.
Old development issues that have petered out will undoubtedly get dug up again at the all-candidates debate Oct. 24 (it’s at Camp Fortune at 7 p.m.).
Over in La Peche, Wakefield’s seat has three solid contenders.
Compare that to 2009, when Louis Rompre was a shoe-in with 92 per cent of the vote.
The mayoral race up the line is especially juicy for rural politics.
In little Kazabazua, a man formerly convicted of criminal negligence in the death of his girlfriend is running for the top elected seat.
Former municipal employee, Sandra Lacharity, is running almost two years after she quit because two councillors allegedly harassed her. She left with $12,000 from the municipality in an out-of-court settlement. Her competition? Coun. Denis Belair, who allegedly harassed her.
No seat is acclaimed in Kaz and seven women have submitted their nomination papers – impressive for a municipality of fewer than 1,000 people.
Local politics is exciting for this local rag, but hopefully our election amped-up front pages will be enough to send more people to the polls this year.
And maybe the issues themselves will drive a higher voter turnout: the growing Gatineau Hills population is in the crux of change with the Hwy 5 extension and pockets of housing developments popping up on planning tables.
Or maybe that won’t matter.
Look at Chelsea in 2009. Voter turnout was just 49.5 per cent, and yet back then the community was divided over the $9.8 million Meredith Centre, among other issues.
Low voters lagged: just 41 per cent checked off ballots, while their up-the-line neighbours in Kaz saw a 51 per cent turnout.
Cantley fell short, with 27.1 per cent.
All politics is local. And local politics really matter in the Hills. So hit the polls Nov. 3.