Twelve years ago, a few months after I started work at the Nelson Daily News, there was a provincial election. I was new to the Nelson political scene. Having just moved from Alberta where it seems one party will dominate until the end of time, seeing four candidates on the ballot, I knew this was an election to get excited about.
It was 2001 (yes, I’ve been kicking around that long) and it was the year that Liberal Blair Suffredine defeated NDP MLA Corky Evans who’d been sitting in the legislature for 10 years. I don’t remember much about the ensuing excitement over the upset as I, new on the beat, covered the late Colleen McCrory who ran for the Greens, Unity Party Stephen Cox and the memorable Dan Loehndorf who ran for the Marijuana Party. This was the first year the Marijuana Party entered a candidate.
I remember then-managing editor Drew Edwards taking me to Marijuana Party headquarters in the old Herridge Lane Holy Smoke location as the results were breaking. I was to interview the losing candidate. Edwards told the dreadlocked crew to “take it easy on her” — the Alberta farm girl still fresh on me. It’s a fond memory I have of the often gruff Edward’s softer side.
It was a fun night fueled by the adrenaline a reporter gets when things are happening.
So here I am again. This is my first election since returning to work after a bit of an extended maternity leave. And I am excited. Last week, I tweeted asking who’s with me and was asked if I was being sarcastic. While I generally go for sarcasm, this time, I’m sincere.
I think this election has me going for no reason other than it’s happening. As a reporter, I’m fully engaged. When someone fully commits to an experience, more comes from it as is true in all life experiences.
This election I get the privilege of sitting down with each candidate and chatting with them about their lives, their ideas and their plans. I attended Tuesday night’s all-candidate forum and will go to the others where I can see them under pressure, thinking on their feet and how that reflects on their character. These are things that anyone can do but not everyone does. In fact, when you consider the importance of electing a government far too few actually get engaged.
I am first to admit that when I took off my reporter hat, strapped three kids to myself and became more concerned with soup than political process, I didn’t seek out the candidates for a one-on-one or head out after dinner to listen to debate. I voted, but with less enthusiasm than I feel today.
As I gather information while covering this election, I’m fueling my ability to best make a decision. Not only am I excited about the campaign, I’m excited to vote. My decision will be utterly informed. How could it not be?
So “rah, rah, rah!”— get excited about the election. Be engaged. Because you want to. Because it could even be fun. Fun is what you make of it right? There are still three weeks to jump on the bandwagon. Space is available.
Kirsten Hildebrand is a reporter at the Nelson Star. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org