Group hopes to increase Grey Highlands voter turnout

·3 min read

Grey Highlands resident Dave Meslin wants to see voter participation in the local municipal election increase dramatically this fall.

The Eugenia-area resident has formed the Grey Highlands Municipal League with the goal of increasing voter turnout and attracting more candidates to this fall’s election for local council and school boards. He has attracted volunteers from across the municipality interested in assisting candidates who would like to run this fall.

The group is non-partisan and is not supporting one candidate over another, but rather is offering logistical support for prospective candidates who might not know how the candidate process works.

Meslin said, unlike provincial and federal campaigns where candidates have access to support from riding association volunteers and political parties, local municipal candidates are on their own.

“We’re offering assistance with the harder parts. How do you make a website? You have to open a bank account. You have to appoint a CFO. You have to fill out the nomination forms. You have to file financial papers. That can be a turn-off,” he said. “Municipally, if you run for council, it’s just you and I think that’s really intimidating. It’s not a very inviting climate. We’re a support group.”

The Grey Highlands Municipal League has already held one event in Markdale that attracted 50 people, 13 of whom filled out cards indicating they were interested in running in the election. Two more events are planned for August in Flesherton and Kimberley. The event in Kimberley on August 24 will be a meet-and-greet format after the nomination period closes.

“It’s fun. It’s multi-partisan. It’s a gateway to engagement,” said Meslin. “I’m a habitual political entrepreneur. I like working with people and I honestly don’t care who wins. Nothing against the current council, I’m encouraging all of them to run again.”

As part of their goal of increasing voter turnout, the Grey Highlands Municipal League plans three mailouts to local residents about the municipal election. Meslin noted that a big company like Canadian Tire devotes significant resources to online advertising, but added that each week the company still sends a full-colour flyer directly to Canadians.

“To boost turnout, you need to mail out a full catalogue of who is running,” he said.

He said the first mail-out will remind voters the election is coming up, the second will detail the candidates with biographies and photos and the third will remind voters election day is approaching and remind them to vote.

Meslin said if the group’s efforts are successful during this election cycle, he would be open to expanding the league into a larger organization for future elections.

“If people outside Grey Highlands want to get involved, I’m very open to being the Grey County Municipal League,” he said.

More information about the Grey Highlands Municipal League can be found on their website.

Full details about the municipal election in Grey Highlands can be found here.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca

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