Troubling byelection

Congratulations to Ken Perry, who was sworn in as town councillor last night after winning Mondays byelection, and thanks to Todd Hamilton for letting his name stand so voters of Fort Frances could have a choice.
Sadly, though, the first byelection in our towns 105-year history will be remembered most for the controversy it stirred; not as a shining example of municipal democracy.
The “campaign,” which should have focused on which candidate was best to sit on council, instead was hijacked almost immediately into a debate over whether town council should have called a byelection rather than offer the seat to Mr. Perry as the first runner-up in last Novembers municipal election.
Even Mr. Perry, who handily defeated Mr. Hamilton by well over a 2-to-1 margin, was surprised by the number of votes he took, acknowledging Monday night that the byelection was as much a “protest vote” against council as a “vote for me.”
Not exactly the best reason to elect someone to council.
Much more troubling, though, was the fact that less than 48 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast their ballot—despite having at least three weeks to do so. Was it because this was “just” a byelection or, more frightening, do most people simply not care who runs the affairs of the town on their behalf.
By adopting the mail-in system, the town has made it as easy as possible for people to vote. That being said, the onus still falls on residents to take the time to know the issues and candidates—and make their choice.
Town council is sure to face plenty of issues over the remaining three years of its term. Figuring out a way to get more people to vote shouldnt have to be one of them.