STICK TO THE ISSUES, PLEASE

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Are we in the midst of local government elections or parliamentary elections? The question may seem redundant but we believe that one could be legitimately confused about the objective of the elections coming up on December 2nd given the campaigning that is unfolding at present. ‘Heavy, heavy politricking’ is how one observer described the rallies held by the main political parties on Sunday. Another joked that the politicians should record and replay their campaigning next year to save some money as they will just be repeating the same nonsense for the general elections. While that view seems farfetched, we understand where the individual is coming from. We would be forced to endure the same rhetoric all over again in a few months from now when the fight begins for control of the treasury.

So we all observed two large, well attended events on Sunday with all of the bells and whistles. Political paraphernalia, bus and maxi loads of die hard supporters decked out in party colours, some declaring their undying support for their leaders. They were all one and the same as far as we could tell, albeit on different sides of the divide. The politicians all promised a greater quality of life under their stewardship. Issues such as the Point a Pierre Refinery, marijuana legislation, who ‘teef’ and who didn’t, were all part of the addresses we were subjected to. They were all relevant to a general election campaign, given our style of electioneering. But is the poll on December 2nd really about those issues?

It has become quite difficult to find any politician focusing on the matters at hand. Local government elections has been overshadowed and those who are actually seeking the votes aren’t being given the chance to speak. Councillors in the regional corporations who are responsible for the upkeep and general sense of wellbeing in our communities are the ones who should be speaking. Yet they are being sidelined. They are the ones who should be answering to the electorate on whether they have fulfilled their obligations to keep our neighbourhoods liveable, clean and safe. They are the ones who the spotlight should be focused on, since they are the ones we will probably stain our fingers for in December. Or not.

The political experts and analysts have been preaching that a win at the local government level is an indication of what’s to come in general elections. Therefore, it might be understandable to a point, why the political leaders have been fixated on their own agendas and their future viability. The electorate though, shouldn’t be fooled by smokescreens, mirrors and other theatrics. Local government elections will basically determine how well our communities and neighbourhoods are being managed by those who have promised to do so. It’s about how often we see those entrusted with that responsibility on the ground and actually working on our behalf. Shouldn’t we then demand that the politicians stick to the agenda? Or are we comfortable with just blocking roads, complaining and sticking to tribalism?