Dilemma falls on political ‘safety nets’ - Metro US

Dilemma falls on political ‘safety nets’

Ask any trapeze artist.

It’s much easier to reach for a distant bar when you know you’re working with a net below.
The same logic applies to city leaders who have the option of seeking higher office during their elected terms, knowing their municipal job will make for a safe landing should their aspirations fail.

The latest such daredevil is Ward 13 Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who is back toiling for the constituents who elected her two years ago (actually, she was unopposed) just days after a stinging electoral rebuke in the provincial Calgary-Glenmore riding that left the Tory candidate a distant third.

This has some political watchers calling for reform to ensure city voters don’t see their interests take a back seat to the ambitions of their elected leaders.

“Personally, I think the honourable thing to do is to step down from the office and take the risk — put it all on the line,” said Chima Nkemdirim, one of the founders of the Better Calgary Campaign, a city hall watchdog.

“It’s a bit of an abuse of office that’s not even subtle.”

To be sure, Colley-Urquhart has been an able representative for her constituents since 2001 and she returned her city salary during the byelection while taking a leave of absence to campaign.

But giving up her safety net, er, council seat?

That could be dangerous.

So there is a potential political price to pay, but as Nkemdirim rightly points out, being an alderman in Calgary is one of the safest jobs around.

Certainly safer than that of your average trapeze artist.

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