The candidates of Ward 3 (Woodbridge East) came out Wednesday night to “Meet and Greet” the public in Vaughan. Their primary concern was to increase election awareness. But when the event started at 6:30 p.m. at the Ansley Grove Community Centre, fewer than 15 voters showed up. This type of political apathy continues to disappoint Rev. James Keenan, co-chair of the Vaughan Social Action group.
“There are a lot of people in the community that want to make a difference, but are turned off by the political process,” Keenan said
The event, part of a municipal initiative to increase election awareness, presented the opportunity for voters to personally ask the candidates questions.
Rosanna DeFrancesca, a candidate for Ward 3 councillor, said that the ongoing political scandals in Vaughan have damaged the reputation of the city and have made it difficult for residents to trust candidates.
“We need to restore trust and faith in our government,” DeFrancesca said.
Both Bernie DiVona, the incumbent for Ward 3, and Linda Jackson, mayor of Vaughan, have both faced probes into their civic activity. The charges against DiVona include improper reporting, overspending and inappropriate use of campaign funds. Jackson also faced charges of overspending, and with these allegations in mind, the council even once asked Jackson to step down as mayor.
But Steven Del Duca, candidate for Ward 3 councillor, hopes that these incidents will spur citizens to get out and vote.
“It’s most important that they come out and vote because and the end of the day it’s the only way the city is going to grow and change,” Del Duca said. “Complacency actually only helps ensure the status quo.”
Del Duca became involved in the Vaughan Task Force on Democratic Participation and Renewal, which was given the mandate of improving voter turnout in the 2010 elections. Del Duca says that although voter turnout in Vaughan is fair (around 38 per cent), municipal elections still attract fewer voters than provincial elections.
Joyce Frustaglio, regional councillor in Vaughan, is puzzled that municipal elections do not receive as much attention from voters.
“We are the government closest to the people,” Frustaglio said.