Diversity is the key to success in any system.
Diversity creates strength, wealth, equity, creativity, and beauty. In order to be stronger, smarter, and more engaging, our governments need to be more diverse.
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody”
– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Our local government lacks diversity in two main areas: the diversity of our elected representatives and the diversity of our voters. Of our nine city council members, we have only one woman, no youth, no new Canadians, and no First Nations. Our leaders at the helm of the city do not reflect the diversity of the leaders in our community at large.
Women as leaders
The United Nations tell us that in order for women’s concerns to be successfully represented in a community, there must be at least 30% women at the decision making table. Employment, child care, housing, recreation, transportation, and many other municipal decisions all have different impacts on women as a whole, than they do for men. Women need to be a part of the decision-making process.
Youth as leaders
The impact of many decisions at City Council will be felt most prominently by the next generation. Youth need to be involved in shaping the community they will be living in for decades to come. If we want to build a community that young people will consider moving to (and staying in) we need their perspective at the decision making table.
Citizens as leaders
Even more concerning than the lack of diversity in our leaders is the lack of diversity at the polls. Voter turnout in the Prince George municipal elections in 2011 was 29 percent, down from 38 percent in 2008 and 41 percent in 2005. When less than one-third of eligible voters show up to the polls, our democratic system is failing.
If you think that voting never changes anything, now is the time to change that thinking. Voting can be fun because there are no wrong answers. Voting is more about you than it is about the candidates you chose. People who vote are more likely to speak out, write letters, volunteer, and participate in their community. Voting only happens once every four years, but the opportunity to practice community participation happens every day. Strong action is needed to re-engage citizens with the local government.
The type of leadership needed to bring our community back to healthy civic participation won’t just come from me, leadership is for everyone. I am counting on you to lead your community to better civic involvement. And we are all counting on you to vote!
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
– John Quincy Adams