Well, it has started. Yesterday, I found a love note in my mailbox. It had a picture of a woman’s face on it and she was offering to do wonderful things for me. I’m sure there will be many such notes from both men and women in the next few weeks as we approach the October civic election.
Before reading the political billet-doux, I asked myself what I thought it might say. My guess was it would talk about commitment to community, the need for a safer city, the judicious use of tax dollars, and some sort of support for the environment.
I wasn’t disappointed. The missive had all the nice words everybody puts on their campaign literature, as well as an invitation to come to meet the candidate.
Lots of nice men and women will be running for city council. They will send you pictures of their spouses, children and/or pets. They will send quotes from others that talk about what fine people they are and how they are exactly what the city needs. And they will show up at every event where there is a vote to be had.
That’s the way it’s always been. And because of that, we are quite likely to get the same kind of lacklustre city councillors we’ve had for decades. Unfortunately, being a nice person doesn’t necessarily make you a good councillor, nor does helping save unwanted pets or making sure there’s a soccer pitch in your neighbourhood.
Having some business smarts, experience at working successfully with others on complex issues and a track record of getting things done may in fact make you a good councillor.
There’s only one real evaluation of a civic politician. During their time on council, what was achieved and what role did they play in it?
City council is basically the board of governors of a very large organization. Its role is to set targets for the administration and evaluate how well those targets were met. We have to move beyond thinking that the man or woman who will get the sidewalk in front of our house fixed is the right person for the job. That’s small town thinking. We need people on city council with a concrete plan for the future and who are willing to hold themselves accountable for their ability to meet and exceed their goals.