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'Get involved': Councillor encouraging young people to run in next election

The next municipal election in HRM is happening on October 17, 2020
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The next municipal election in HRM is happening on October 17, 2020.

Current councillor for Timberlea-Clayton Park-Wedgewood Richard Zurawski, is hoping to see more young people on the voting ballot.

"The people who have the most to lose are young people," he tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

Zurawski, who also ran for the federal Green Party in the 2019 election, says he sees a lot of young people who are concerned about the environment and climate change.

"If you're a protester and you're young and you're concerned about the future, and you should be, then you need to get involved in the political process as well," he says.

The councillor says it's easier to advocate for change from inside the political process than as an outsider.

"Protest is only one part of it. Getting involved in the political structure of something puts you on the inside," he explains.

Along with other members of the Green Party like Thomas Trappenberg and interim Green leader Jo-Ann Roberts, Zurawski put forward an idea to encourage young Nova Scotians to put their name forward for municipal politics.

"The potential there is enormous," he says. "So what we're going to be doing is going to each of the municipalities across Nova Scotia over the next few months to encourage young people, especially green-minded young people, to run."

Zurawski says that in total, there are upwards of 800 different municipal positions across the province, including councillors, mayors, and wardens. He says they picked municipal elections because they are the easiest to enter.

"It's really cheap. You only need five or ten signatures and it's easy. The districts tend to be smaller and the cost outweigh isn't that much if you get volunteers to help you knock on doors," Zurawski explains.

The nomination fee was just $200 for the 2016 municipal election. Zurawski says candidates don't need to have ties to any specific political party. They also don't even need to live in the voting district.

"You can live outside of the district as long as you're associated with it and as long as you get the requisite number of votes to get you elected to that position," he adds.

One of Zurawski's main concerns is the climate crisis, which he thinks concerns young people more than their older counterparts.

"This is not a climate change issue, this is a climate crisis issue," he adds.

The councillor says protests -- which are heavily attended by young people -- prove that the status quo isn't working.

"The pushback is coming from business as usual. This idea that we can continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results," Zurawski says.

And younger candidates being elected isn't unprecedented. In a 2016 by-election, 19-year-old Conservative candidate in Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff, won the MPP position.

"All of this is doable," he says. If you look at all of the Conservative candidates, they tend to start young and they get involved politically and they get to understand the process. If you understand the process, then you're a step ahead of everybody."

As for Halifax, Zurawski acknowledges that the councillors aren't exactly youthful.

"Lindell Smith is probably the youngest councillor, I don't think he's 30 yet, and then we have Sam Austin who is in his mid-30s I believe," he says. "But the average age increases rapidly."

Zurawski hopes that come October, that will change.

"The only way that's going to change is to encourage young people to get involved in the political process," Zurawski says.

For those interested in submitting their candidacy, more information can be found on the HRM website.


Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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