Four Red Deer College students are looking forward to their first chance to cast a ballot and become part of the political process in the approaching municipal election.
Red Deer residents Josh Cormier and Brady Podloski both said the bike lanes are one of the big issues for them.
“I think that’s an issue for a lot of Red Deerians and for me I support them,” said Cormier, an education student.
But Podloski, who wants to study criminology, doesn’t think enough people use them.
“They’re meant for exercise, but we already have gyms everywhere,” said Podloski. “How much does Red Deer spend on those?”
Cormier did say that council’s communication was lacking and could have been handled better in relation to bike lanes.
Municipal elections involve a lot of research as there are many people to vote for.
On Oct. 21, people will vote for one mayor, eight councillors and, depending on if they vote for the public or catholic school board, seven or five trustees.
“If I don’t know what they’re about, I’m not going to choose them. I’m not going to give my vote to some random person,” said Podloski, adding he reads the newspaper to stay on top of the municipal election, as well as being active in his political science class.
Though he is unable to vote in the election Toby Nwabuogor, 18, he is still enthusiastic about the process.
He came to Red Deer from Nigeria three months ago, falling three months shy of the six-month requirement to vote in the municipal elections.
“Where I come from you only see the best side of politicians during elections,” said Nwabuogor, an open studies student focusing on psychology.
“They will go to villages, they will buy stuff and then after that people vote for them. They make promises and then after that they pretty much disappear, they’ve gotten what they wanted.”
He said he wants to change the system, and for that to happen he has to be politically active. Though he can’t vote, he still reads newspaper articles about the election and learns what people stand for.
“What I’m looking at is how politicians handle change,” said Nwabuogor.
“If they’re able to handle change well because we’re in a changing world. We can’t have people saying no, we have to stick to the same old principles because it worked 20 years ago.”
Evan Lintick is voting for the first time in his hometown of Sylvan Lake.
He said he supports Sean McIntyre, after seeing him speak at his high school graduation, he was impressed with his charisma.
“Susan Samson has been mayor for years,” said Lintick.
“I haven’t seen any public appearances from her and I feel Sean McIntyre adds a better face to the community than she has in the past few years.”
Down the ballot Lintick, a political science student, already has his mind made up about one candidate, Jas Payne, his old football coach.
Cormier said he supports Cindy Jefferies in this campaign.
“I’m not your average 18-year-old who sits around and plays video games, I’m actually at the farmers market, talking to politicians,” said Cormier. “I want to know where they stand because I think it’s important for young people to vote and be engaged.”
Cormier’s dad is a social teacher and is interested in politics, which has influenced him in his interest.
For Lintick it was a little bit of a different experience.
“My parents aren’t that politically involved, but my grandparents are very much involved,” said Lintick.
“Most of my family tends to lean conservative, but then there’s my grandfather who is more left-wing. One of the hot button topics when my family gets together is politics.”
Last municipal election, 2010, voter turnout was under 24 per cent.
These young voters have tried to push their friends to vote and have been met, for the most part, with apathy.
Nwabuogor said it is completely different in Nigeria, young people push for other to vote for change.
“The youths are always trying somehow to get their voice heard,” said Nwabuogor. “People organize themselves to go vote for someone. I’m surprised because here people don’t vote.”
Red Deer College Student Association president Martin Cruz is in a unique position.
The 20-year-old political science student is a first time voter as well, but before he gets the chance to vote he has to moderate the college’s mayoral forum on Tuesday.
“We want to make it fun, but we have to put out the importance of why you should vote,” said Cruz.
“It’s also part of our job to make sure we’re doing our part in the community.”
While the questions will generally come from the community and members of the college’s political science society, Cruz said he would ask the candidates what their financial priorities are for the city.
The college hosted debate takes place Tuesday, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the City Centre Stage, 4922 49th St.