Jack Brezina: Thank you
|By Jack Brezina - Contributing Writer | Sept. 6, 2018|
Years spent in the front row of a public gallery in municipal council chambers, pen and notepad in hand, has given me an interesting perspective on what we ask our councillors to do on our behalf. It is neither an easy task and for the most part nor is it glamourous. Oh, there are those times when an event or moment draws the attention of the public and all eyes turns to the elected members of council, but these are indeed few and far between.
My estimation of the job is that there is a lot of reading … staff reports, tender bids, letters from constituents, ponderous budget papers, directives from the province, rules, regulations, invitations, policy papers, studies and, well, reams of paper telling the elected officials how they might do their jobs better. Conscientious members of a municipal council plough through all those pages because they need that information to make an informed decision.
Responding to questions and requests from constituents can also be time consuming. In addition to the two high profile meetings a month, there are usually a number of committee meetings which also require a councillor’s attention. For the mayors and deputy mayors, that effort is doubled because they are also members of the county council, which has its own set of meetings and committees each with its own set of reports etc.
Couple that with the unofficial, but nonetheless important expectations that come with the job: being seen at events in the community, attending property owners’ association meetings, fundraisers, anniversary celebrations, retirements, business openings etc. etc. … and one wonders why anyone would want the job, let alone fight to get it.
Well, as the signs lining the sides of the roads tell us, lots of people are keen to be a part of municipal councils in our communities. To all of them, I say thank you. Not only does the plethora of candidates renew my faith in the democratic process and the people’s right to choose who will be making decisions for them over the next four years, the number of candidates means there is a variety of opinions and approaches on offer and that can only be good for those of us considering our options.
While an appointment by acclamation is often an endorsement of a job well done on the part of an incumbent, it can also be an indication of a lack of interest on the part of citizens. Fortunately, few positions have been awarded to just a single candidate and over the next few weeks we will have an opportunity to consider those who have thrown their hats in the ring and decide who we think should be at the table.
Municipal and county governments are the ones closest to the people. While the decisions made at local council tables don’t have the grand sweep of those at the federal or provincial levels, they do often have an immediate impact on residents’ lives. And, so we should be paying close attention to what the candidates say and what they have to offer their communities. Voters should be asking question of the candidates, reading their platforms on line and in handouts and attending the all candidates’ meetings scheduled in the next couple of weeks when there will be an opportunity to hear from those seeking office. And, having done all that and made thoughtful decisions, complete your part of the bargain by voting.
Jack Brezina is a contributing writer for The Highlander.