Red Deer election one for the history books
As the 35 candidates fighting for a spot on Red Deer city council enter the final days of campaigning, there’s little doubt Monday’s civic election will make its mark in the history books.
A record number of candidates have pledged to serve Red Deerians for the next four years.
Among the diverse mix are blue collar workers, business owners, homemakers and a college instructor.
There’s a 54-year age gap between the oldest candidate at 80 and the two youngest hopefuls at 26.
Eight are women –– two of whom are jostling for the mayor’s seat. Since 2004, there have been at least four women on the nine-person council.
Larry Pimm, former longtime city councillor, said having such a large number of candidates volunteering to be on council is positive. “It gives us some choice,” said Pimm.
“And choice is what we should have lots of.”
Electors will also answer the question: Do you want the City of Red Deer divided into wards?
Then there’s the ever-growing popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that may push the tech savvy generation to the polls.
In 2010, voter turnout was an abysmal 24.8 per cent of eligible voters, the third lowest in recent times.
David Baugh, a Red Deer College political science instructor, said voter turnout generally increases when the mayor’s seat is open, as it is this time around.
On the other hand, he said, the large number of candidates may prove daunting to the voter.
The bar was set high in 1992, when 43.1 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots. With no incumbent in the race, Gail Surkan emerged as the victor in a three-person mayoral race and became Red Deer’s first female mayor, beating Dennis Moffat and John Campbell. Surkan kept her job until 2004, when she stepped down.
In the 2004 election, 27.7 per cent of eligible voters showed up at the polls. Morris Flewwelling snagged the city’s top elected position and retained his position through two elections. This time around, the 72-year-old is not seeking re-election. Five candidates are in the running for the mayor’s job.
Numbers from the advance polls suggest Red Deer is on track to best its 2010 five-day early totals. So far 1,005 residents have voted early, compared to 1,090 in 2010. The final two advance polls are set at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Returning officer Frieda McDougall said the municipal elections are now held only once every four years so it’s even more important to cast a ballot.
The polls open on Monday, election day, at 10 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. There are 31 voting stations across the city. Residents must vote in the station within their voting subdivisions.
New this year, residents must show identification before voting that establishes both the elector’s name and current address. See the city’s website at www.reddeer.ca/reddeervotes for a list of acceptable identification and for other information.