The Manitoba Government is encouraging citizens who would like to make a difference in their communities to vote in upcoming municipal elections and consider running.

The province sent out a press release Thursday reminding Manitobans that the next general municipal election is slated for October 26th. With that in mind, PortageOnline reached out to municipal relations minister Eileen Clarke for her input.

Clarke, who was the mayor of Gladstone for eight years, says that this should typically be a very exciting time in communities; however, she is finding this round of elections to be a little underwhelming.

"Not a lot of people are hearing about people interested in running," notes Clarke."  There are many that have been running for up to 20-30 years and are saying, 'It's time to quit.' For whatever reason."

Minister Clarke shares that she believes the reason for this is that COVID has been pretty rough for everyone.

"There's so much that an individual can contribute, and it can be people of any age, any occupation. Any background, and I think we really need to encourage people to do that."

Clarke says she has travelled extensively to small communities since being re-appointed as the municipal minister in January.

"I'm just overwhelmed by the growth on the economic development that's going on in rural Manitoba, even in smaller communities, when you get communities like Niverville, Neepawa, and West St Paul that are actually recognized nationally for their growth and development that's pretty exciting for Manitoba and I know there's a lot of other communities that are doing really, really well, and there's a lot of pride when you've been a part of that."

The minister adds that she suggests that the general public take this election very seriously and remember that these individuals you elect will represent you.

"Once they are elected, certainly remember that they need to be respected, but they also need to earn that respect for their governance. It's a two-way street. We have to all work together."