EDITORIAL: The election — a final assessment

At long last, it’s over.

This year’s municipal election brought out some of the best and the worst in our town.

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For the good, it showed that there were many people who were engaged enough to put their foot forward for the mayor’s seat or a spot on council.

More than 22 people stepped forward to run for the six spots on council, with a significant number of candidates being new faces.

Congratulations to them for putting themselves in the race. It’s because of people who are courageous and engaged enough to enter the political arena that our democratic system works.

The candidates represented the diversity of the town. Young and old, running the gamut from the non-profit sector to the business-oriented.

Sacha Fabry and Rajan Hans deserve a special mention for running, as they have broken the stereotype that the younger generation is disengaged and uncaring of how municipal government works.

Kudos should also be given to all the mayoral candidates.

Having four people interested in the mayorship signalled a healthy democracy, as opposed to the alternative in some communities, where that title was won by default because of a lack of interest.

Voter turnout also improved, at least from a proportional standpoint. The previous election in 2014 saw 47.13 per cent of the voting population hit the polls.

There was a slight uptick this year, as that figure has risen to 48.28 per cent of voters turned out.

But there are some areas where we suggest improvement.

In some extreme cases, we’ve heard of members of some campaign teams who ended up threatening and bullying any voice who disagreed with their views.

We understand that political candidates can’t control everything their staffers do, but it’s worth knowing that when your representatives act disruptively, it is also a reflection of your capability as a leader.

Social media is a blessing in that it allows many to have their voices heard. But they had best learn to use this tool in a constructive manner, lest debate devolves into the peddling of falsehoods.

We have witnessed information being manipulated in negative ways by people at a rate unprecedented in previous Squamish elections.

The anonymous attack ads being circulated through Facebook — which also involved the theft of The Chief’s intellectual property — were just one ugly example.

Equally disturbing was the allegation that some of The Chief’s candidate questionnaires were being reposted and altered with false information.

There was much good that surfaced this election, but it was accompanied by some disturbing behaviour.

It would do us good to be mindful of both.

Focus on growing the former and reducing the latter.

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