Attending Tuesday evening’s all-candidates forum, I was struck by two observations — both of them having to do with “seasoning.”
The first observation came within minutes of walking into the Sonora Centre gymnasium and doing a quick glance through the gathered audience.
The chairs were filled with “seasoned” Osoyoos residents.
I would say young Osoyans were few in number — count the fingers on one hand kind of few in number — except that many of the seasoned people I know in Osoyoos are still quite young, even if their ages are measured in calendar years that would warrant for them biblical contemplation.
Seasoned is the right word. They’ve seen a lot, lived a lot. They’ve made mistakes, learned from them — sometimes more than once — and, if they’re like me, have a story to tell for almost every life event brought to them by someone with a few less trips around the block.
Which leads to my second observation.
Most of the candidates running for Council later this month are also seasoned — some of them in more ways than others.
I’m talking about incumbency. Mayor Sue McKortoff and two of her councillors — CJ Rhodes and Jim King — enjoy a double dose of seasoning, a kind of salt and pepper shake.
Their council experience was evident as numerous issues were raised for the nine candidates attending.
While the six others could bring a general civic understanding of a particular issue to the discussion, oftentimes agreeing with comments made by previous respondents, the three incumbents could speak with Council authority, having, as I noted earlier, travelled around that block a few extra times.
They filled in the gaps and provided an added explanation for why this issue or that concern was a little more complicated than it might appear on the surface.
That’s not to say the conversation involving the non-incumbents wasn’t relevant.
Their life experience was apparent and some interesting dialogue was raised with the introduction of new ideas and unique perspective.
As well, it should be noted the three incumbents were once political neophytes themselves who likely entered their first debate with little more than a rudimentary understanding of the inner workings of local government.
Four, eight, 12 years of seasoning has given to them a distinct advantage as they ponder another term.
There’s ample opportunity to serve in a small community, but it all starts with awareness. Tuesday’s forum provided a comprehensive snapshot of difficult issues with which collective Osoyoos is having to deal.
Which makes me wonder about the vast number of young people in our community who couldn’t make the forum, because youngsters at home required feeding, it was just too much to ponder after a long day at work or they simply see the whole exercise as pointless.
Many of the issues discussed — affordable housing, opportunities for youth, construction of facilities that will easily outlive the lifetimes of most of those attending — were decidedly relevant to this younger population.
But in large part the only ears to hear that discussion were nestled in grey.
Too often I’m told the Osoyoos community is dominated by its senior population, which is substantial. They have the time, seasoning and other resources to maintain and organize and, in a big way, provide leadership to a younger population.
But they also have something else going for them: they’re informed — and not in a 50-words-or-less Facebook kind of way.
Knowledge really is power.
The community’s younger constituency does have some champions running for office later this month. But to see at least one of them elected will likely require that younger constituency to participate.
For those who couldn’t or didn’t make the Tuesday forum, a bigger opportunity still awaits.
It comes October 20.
Take the time over the next 10 days to do a little research. OsoyoosToday has provided candidate profiles, and information — including conversation with individual candidates — is available elsewhere.
Then, find a sitter for the kids, get way from your job and see casting a ballot as something other than pointless.
Next Saturday, just vote — and help a younger Osoyoos add a little of its own herbs and spices.