With the municipal election quickly approaching, it’s no doubt that soon everyone’s favourite news outlets will be filled to the brim with election coverage.
At Arthur we’ll be focused heavily on what’s happening in Peterborough. Our coverage will be critical of both the candidates and the major concerns of voters.
In our next issue we’ll begin a five-part series that’s going to break down several concerns that are particularly relevant to voters in our community. The intent is to inform students of the issues this election, and get as many Trent students as possible into the voting booth.
In Issue 6, the last paper that goes to print before the October 27 voting day, we’ll be publishing interviews conducted with the mayoral candidates, as well as all candidates in the three wards Trent students are most likely to live in (Town, Northcrest, and Ashburnham).
There’s also going to be some more general How To Vote articles published sporadically to demystify the process for students.
If you’ve been following our Twitter account you’ll have noticed that some coverage has already taken place, specifically coverage of two mayoral candidates—incumbent Daryl Bennett and Trent-alumna/local organizer Maryam Monsef.
In fact, the tweet announcing Monsef’s candidacy is our most favourited and retweeted tweet ever.
This, along with the presence of 50-plus supporters who came out to watch the announcement, indicates to me that there’s going to be a stiff challenge for all candidates this election that will hopefully keep Peterborough voters from getting too distracted by whatever ridiculous antics Doug and Rob Ford get up to in the next two months.
One thing I hope voters pay attention to is how mainstream media outlets in Peterborough cover the women running in the election.
Peterborough politics tends to be a bit of an old boys club. Council is currently comprised of 10 men and one woman, and most of those men have been around a while.
Of course, I don’t mean to suggest you should only vote for the young, hip candidates. Far from it.
In my ward, my favourite candidate so far is retired, and my least favourite is probably only a few years my senior (both are men by the way).
I think it’s important to critically examine the conditions that would lead to a council with such a one-sided gender make-up. I think the track record of this council is a testament to the fact that it wasn’t always political merit.
I write this because I was struck by something Monsef said to me while I was photographing her after her announcement.
During Bennett’s announcement a week earlier, I snapped a wonderful blooper photo of him making a face at a friend in the crowd. It was well-received on Twitter, and I decided it would be only fair to snap a blooper of Monsef as well to run side-by-side in this very issue.
However, when she saw me, Monsef said to me “no bloopers! Women in politics have it hard enough already.”
Looking at Peterborough’s city council, it’s hard to disagree.
So, I urge you to be critical of coverage that’s unfair to women running in this election, implicitly or explicity. Already I’ve seen articles in Peterborough go into unnecessary detail about the clothing and appearance of women at a political event, but fail to discuss the merits of any of then men’s ties or blazers.
Let’s let the candidates’ political ideas rule the day and inform our votes, not their gender.
Rather than bloopers, below are the best photos I took of the two mayoral candidates I’ve photographed thus far. The first is Maryam Monsef standing beside the City Hall sign. The second is Daryl Bennett (right) shaking hands with city clerk John Kennedy.