Opinion: You don't have to vote, but you should

We're a little over a week away from the local government election, where residents will have the opportunity to vote for a candidate, or two, vying for a seat on council.

Last month, those of us who are eligible to vote in the upcoming election would have received our postal votes in the mail.

Because voting is optional in local government elections, many will cast these important envelopes aside.

But, deciding on a candidate to represent your electorate gives you the ability to help shape the community you live, work and play in.

Local government is the closest sphere of government to your community.

Your ratepayer dollars maintain local amenities from roads to ovals, basketball courts and local parks.

The council are responsible for running community centres, hosting events, collecting rubbish and everything in between.

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In the last few weeks alone, City of Mandurah councillors have deliberated on retail trading hours, expanding homelessness support and strategies to combat anti-social behaviour.

The Shire of Murray have made important decisions regarding the Point Grey Marina development proposal, local heritage investment and the Peel Business Park.

These are facilities that our rates contribute to and issues that directly affect us, so we should grab our voting privilege with both hands and take the opportunity to have a say in the governance of our community.

Most people I speak to are often able to express their views about political parties on a national scale but would be hard-pressed to name the local councillors helping to decide what's going on in their own backyard.

To help Mandurah Mail readers, and as part of the lead up to the election, we've asked the crop of candidates from both the City of Mandurah and Shire of Murray about their main priorities and why residents should vote for them.

So, find out who's running for you and get to know their policies.

Then, rummage through that pile of paperwork on the kitchen bench and find your ballot paper envelope to flex your democratic right. Or, head to the polls on Saturday, October 19 and make your vote count.