27 October 2014, a.k.a. one of the days my life changed for the better.
8 years ago, I sat in the Wellington Arena (a.k.a. the new Duke Dome, a.a.k.a the Essroc Arena then) and stood with my Mum at the back of the room watching the Municipal Election results come in. I remember shaking hands with Dianne and maybe a few other people, but what I remember the most was…actually not a whole lot other than nerves!
Why was I nervous? Because, at 23 years old that year (do the math on my age now if you must), I was one of the youngest candidates letting my name stand for municipal election. I don’t recall if I was the youngest or if Stephanie was a smidge younger than me, but I do remember the feeling of coming into myself in a way that I never had before. I had a voice and people wanted to hear it, after many years of me not knowing how to use it. I had people, when I spoke, listening to what I said. I’d never before had that experience, as I was always relegated to the “you’re too young to know what you’re talking about” or “you must be part of the media” demographics of political events. I still remember going to an event at the Tall Poppy early in the campaign period and a few weeks before I filed for candidacy. A lot of people thought I was there as a journalism student, and I remember the looks and handshakes when I said “no, I’m thinking of running in Ameliasburgh Ward”. I didn’t know anyone there and I suddenly had a lot of supporters.
My platform was simple – to give youth a voice on council and listen to what they have to say. 8 years later, I’m still committed to that. I spent maybe $100.00 on advertisement, and that included a sign that I made with my Dad that said “Vote Tracey- Ward 4”. We planted it at the bottom of the Bay Bridge, repaired it when someone decided to vandalize it, and then moved it to near my old elementary school the night of the election. The Wellington Times even gave me their endorsement, which meant a great deal. All in all, I didn’t do too shabby – 477 votes out of 5110 votes up for grabs and I placed 4th out 6 Candidates.
If I’d maybe pressed a little harder and done more advertising, I probably could have clinched one of the 3 available seats, but as I said, my voice was just developing. I was just starting to come into myself and realise what my voice could do if I paired it with actions. I didn’t go quietly into the night either, the youngest candidates in the election that year even hosted a Future Forum, where we brought youth and adults into the same room, with the premise being that the youth do the talking and adults do the listening. I will mention that a lot of the issues that were brought up that night are still being discussed and are points of concern for young people today. I joined the Museum Advisory Committee for a few years and helped advise Council on the state of the County’s beloved Museum system. I even fulfilled a bookworm’s dream by temporarily being an employee of the County’s Public Library system.
It wasn’t an easy time in my life by any means, but it made me stronger. Indeed, if I wasn’t so unsure of where I’m permanently going to be, I’d let my name stand again, and my platform would be very similar to that of when I was 23, I’d have submitted my name again in 2018 and I came very close to submitting my name in my current municipality for this round, but I’m not sure if I’ll still be living here in 4 years, so I didn’t want to waste taxpayer dollars by running, potentially winning a seat, and then being the person that is the reason behind a by-election. I do know I’ll be getting more active in the area’s political environment, as my view of the state of politics in this area (i.e. apathy and low voter turnout) has definitely shifted these last few months.
To everyone who had the courage and ability to let their name stand for election in the 2022 Ontario Municipal Elections, good luck.