During the last municipal election I had a rather disturbing conversation with one of the folks running for council. The gist of the conversation was that I believed that city hall, elected councillors and city staff could do a better job of engaging, informing, inviting and generally including constituents in local initiatives, decisions and plans.
His suggestion was that I should pay more attention to the newspaper and just be prepared to jump at the few chances there were for engagement.
I may have also suggested that if city hall was a regular business and the marketing department repeatedly came back saying .. uh, well, we put an ad in the paper, guess no one was interested… they’d be job hunting really quickly.
Finally someone more eloquent than I has said exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you Dave Meslin!
What I expect from my local government, at the very least, is information and invitations to participate, both delivered in a variety of formats and in plain language. Is that really too much to expect?
What do you expect from your government officials?
Update: I’m just going to keep adding to this and will post updates as things emerge. You can scroll down to the original post.
In an earlier post I looked at the candidates through the lense of technology with the view that digital literacy is becoming more important. Now I’ve had a chance to listen to and read the responses of the candidates and am finally at a point where I feel I have a sense of their level of literacy or capacity in other critical areas. These include:
Local knowledge – An understanding of the history, demographics and relational context with which to make decisions for the city and it’s constituents.
Business acumen – Running a city is a business and the ability to think like a business person is critical.
Language of diplomacy – Local politicians represent us and our interests to groups outside of the city. We need people who can disagree with an idea without stooping to name calling and other aggressive or passive aggressive practices. We need folks who can advocate while maintaining the relationship.
Systems thinking – This include both the abilty to see the connectedness of decisions, how one thing impacts and changes another, and the ability to anticipate the long term impact of those decisions.
Collaboration – The ability to share a vision and be part of a team that is driving toward that vision.
Inclusiveness – The willingness to include and invite constituents into the decision making process.
Leadership presence – The abilty to present to groups is a necessary part of being a politician. Coming across as professional, intelligent, civil, organized and a person of substance is important. Even servant leaders need a solid public presence.
On Friday October 21st the first round of all candidate meetings took place in Chilliwack. ( Full list of all the folks running.) I was there for a couple of reasons. I was already there as part of the Business Conference sponsored by the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, I was there to support Jason Lum, one of the candidates and of course I was there to figure out who to vote for.. besides Jason – he’s my first choice but I still need to make my mind up about the other 5 seats 🙂 So this is my take on the candidates and in no way should it be confused with Jason’s campaign or his views nor should it be viewed as a completely objective account of what each candidate said.
Each of the 16 candidates present had three minutes to introduce themselves and then were invited to respond to six questions with a one minute time limit on responses. Below is what I recall, some of it based on notes made by a colleague. I’m also including digital footprint information because that matters to me. I want representatives that know about and understand emerging culture and technology. I see digital as a new literacy and I want literate folks running the city. To be fair I Googled each candidates name + Chilliwack to see what would come up in an organic search.
Candidates, if I have misquoted you please feel free to correct me in the comments section. Again, these are my views and more first impression than anything else.
Rob Stelmaschuk – Background in corrections, mostly youth, retired early. Seemed to be supportive of more industry and low-income housing. No web or digital presence that I can find.
Ron Wedel – Began with four score and 20 years ago quote. Injured on job years ago, now full time grampa and would-be politician. Noting related to his running on web other than the mentions generated by the press about ht eelection in general.
Stewart McLean – Incumbent, talked about his involvement with the Mayor’s Committee on Housing. Funeral Home owner. He Googles ok, mostly because of business and involvement with City Hall and hospice society. Found his website via Kijiji ???? http://www.re-electmclean.com/
Ken Huttema – Long history of being involved with sports as coach. When I searched found some info related to coaching.
Dick Harrington – Your active senior. Committed to being able to work full time as he is retired. Long history of political involvement in Ontario. He has a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/dickharrington?v=info which is cool of him but his official email is a Hotmail account and that kind of scares me.
Sue Attrill – Incumbent. A lot of what she said sounded a lot like the vision and values statements from Jason Lum’s website so either she is in alignment with his vision or she was really, really influenced by it. Neither such a bad thing. In search she did come up and there was some negative press along with some positive entries. No dedicated web page that I could find though. She does have a brand spanking new Twitter account @Sue_Attrill, no website listed on here profile there either.
Mike Britton – Opposed to business development and P3s. Involved in Youth basketball. Digital footprint related mostly to basketball and recent news articles about the election.
Garth Glassel – Welder by trade, wants to bring “common sense” back to council. Want to advocate for tax breaks for small business. Search shows him listed in Canada411, not much else.
Gerry Goosen – Contractor, greenhouses, dairy farmer, real estate. Want unlimited parking downtown, increased police presence. Advocating for Euro-model, bike lanes type thing. Goosen Contracting comes up in search.
Gord Kornelson – Fraser Valley Custom Printer owner. Wants a good “family community”. I know he has a website up but couldn’t find it in basic search. He has a QR Code on the promo material he left on the tables.
Phill Bruce – Paramedic. Big on fairness and “voice of reason”. Down on big box stores. No web presence.
Chad Eros – Accountant from Alberta. Wants to get more provincial and federal money to support infrastructural and other city stuff. Nine kids.. yes, NINE. His wife and #9, very freshly born, was sitting near me and she looks amazing for having 9 kids. His digital life is kinda hard to follow because his name is also the name of a musician really active on MySpace. A Twiiter profile came up that looks like it might be his but it’s a dead link (cached so he might have deleted it). I do know that he has another, new, Twitter account @ChadErosChillBC which works fine. I thought he had a website too but can’t locate it organically.
Updated – Chad is from Saskatchewan and his website and blog are now coming up in search.
Responses to the six questions.
Not everyone responded to every question and again, these are notes, the take away and certainly not everything that was said.
1. What can City Council do to create jobs in our community?
Nosko – Mentoring program
Stelmaschuk – Movie production
Britton – Agricultural manufacturing
McLean – Keep doing what we’re already doing
Lum – Fair & equitable taxes, CEPCO doing great job, elect people that can “sell” the city to new business, investors
Eros – Economic stimulus $
Currie – Keep promoting business
Harrington – Focused on what worked in the past
Browne – Look at the development process and associated cost
Bruce – Downtown Revitalization = Jobs
2. What is your opinion on how Council should balance population growth and “grassroots” feel of Chilliwack?
Attrill – Talked about hillside development and creating “small, walkable” neighborhoods
McLean – 65% o Chilliwack is Agri land
Stelmaschuk – Low-income housing
Lum – Manage growth, smart land use, engage the community and listen to the people
Eros – Re-zone Agri land
Harrington – This is his #1 issue; strong supporter of ALR; focus on downtown