How Do You Elect a Good Council?

So, how do you choose a good council? Here’s my two cents on the subject:

The mayor’s slot is about leadership, ensuring that council works as a team and representing Sidney’s interests at the CRD. The mayor is only one vote on council. It’s not the mayor’s show to run things however he/she wants, but the mayor should have a vision and priorities to recommend to council. The mayor is also the spokesperson for the Town and has a lot of influence on openness and transparency. For council to work effectively and to best represent the community’s interest, council needs to work as a team with mutual respect and where all members have a fair opportunity to contribute to decisions. A strong council can make up for a weak mayor, but that’s not an ideal outcome.

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For the councilors you need people who will work as a team. Obviously they should have Sidney’s best interests at heart and be willing to put in the time. I think it’s important that the majority of council be residents or owners of businesses in Sidney. I’m okay with one or perhaps two non-residents provided they have a strong connection with our community and bring something of value to council. Residents and business owners have some skin in the game and will have to pay the taxes they vote on.

Council needs some experienced members so there is some knowledge of how things work and how to get things done, and to act as mentors for the first-timers. It is also desirable to have someone from the previous council to ensure continuity and familiarity with ongoing matters. We could rely on town staff for this, but better it be a councillor.

We need some new people gaining experience as councillors to provide leadership in future years. I think our community also benefits from new perspectives. I suggest it would be good to have at least two people on council who have not previously served.

I think it is also important that council include a diversity of skills, perspectives and backgrounds. Given the challenges facing our downtown and business community, it would be good to have someone knowledgeable of and representing their interests on council. This should be balanced by at least one councillor who primarily represents our residents. We should have at least one councillor, preferably more, with some experience and skills in financial management. Since one of our big concerns is a balanced demographic and attracting more families, it would also be good to have someone representing their interests. A diversity of male and female, young and old would also be good.

A very important thing is that council needs to be willing to listen and to give fair consideration to what they hear from the community. This doesn’t mean that council should always do what people want them to do, but council should be able and willing to explain why they make the decisions they do, particularly if there are a lot of people saying they should be making a different decision.

What are your thoughts?

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