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Cause for concern

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With the municipal election just two months from today, more candidates finally are beginning to trickle in. But unless there’s a flurry of nominations between now and the Sept. 10 deadline, local voters don’t seem to be in for much of a campaign­—if one at all.

Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis has decided to seek re-election, filing his nomination papers at the Civic Centre yesterday. Coun. John Albanese also filed yesterday, with Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft doing so today.

They join Coun. Sharon Tibbs, who announced her intention to run again back in March.

While most of the other councillors have indicated they will toss their hats into the ring shortly, no challengers have stepped forward so far to vie for either the mayor’s chair or a seat on town council—and that doesn’t bode well for a frank exchange of views and solutions on the important issues facing our community which voters need to weigh in order to make an informed choice.

It’s a similar story elsewhere in the district, and is cause for concern.

Are people waiting until the last minute before deciding to run? Possibly. But when an information session for prospective candidates, scheduled to be held here yesterday, has to be cancelled due to a lack of interest, that suggests there isn’t a flood of nominations in the offing.

Even incumbents, who may well win their seats by acclamation, aren’t exactly rushing to commit to another term, which raises the question of whether the move to four-year terms from three years just prior to the last election in 2006 is scaring some of them off.

That is a hefty time commitment—especially for those who have other jobs or are raising young families.

There’s no question serving on council or school board can be daunting, and at times thankless, but hopefully more people accept the challenge and step forward as candidates over the next two weeks.

Vibrant election campaigns, after all, are the linchpin of a healthy democracy. They encourage debate of a wide variety of ideas, and more importantly get voters excited about helping to decide their community’s future.

Apathy, by contrast, is a sure way to doom a community.

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