THUNDER BAY – On the morning voting began for the Thunder Bay municipal election began, a push was made to get more women to the ballot box.
The Every Vote Counts effort, spearheaded by the Women in Politics group and PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, was also designed to all voters to consider female candidates on the ballot.
Women in Politics’ Jodi Afonso said it’s imperative for women to have their voices heard on Election Day.
“This campaign raises the visibility of exceptional women who have stepped up to run for political roles, but most importantly, it emphasizes that every woman, regardless of her age, background, or culture, has a vote and a vote that counts,” Afonso said.
“Individually and collectively, female voters and candidates add up to change the socio-political landscape of our communities.”
Just three women were elected to Thunder Bay city council in 2014 – Rebecca Johnson, Linda Rydholm and newcomer Shelby Ch’ng. Only eight of 50 municipal candidates were female, a number that has doubled in 2018, when 16 of the 61 hopefuls are women.
Things are more evenly split on the school board slate. Four years ago 13 of the 27 candidates who put their names forward were women; this time around it’s 20 of the 40 candidates.
Anne Antennuci, a politically savvy voter, said with wards being decided by as few as 45 votes, in the case of the 2014 Westfort contest, every vote does count.
It’s a message she wanted to drive home to the under-40 crowd.
“I really wanted to encourage people of my age, especially women, to look at their options and get out there and vote. And then when the election is done, look at those options again. And if you’re not happy about it, run. You’ve got four years to do it,” Antenucci said.
Representation matters. It’s evident in all levels of government and becoming clearer given the political climate south of the border.
Elections have consequences, Antenucci said and women need to have a say to ensure the right people are in office, politicians who will look out for their rights too.
“We’re 50 per cent of the population, therefore our choices and our votes matter. We may have different issues then maybe the male voters, but a lot of them are the same. We care about our family, we care about their safety. We care about jobs and we care about what goes on in the city, especially for the future.”
Online and telephone voting began on Tuesday. Election Day is Oct. 22.