I am very much enjoying working with the new bright and shiny Councillors of 2014 - 2018, (front to back row: Joyce Behnsen, Jon Lefebure, Maeve Maquire, Al Siebring, Tom Walker, yours truly, Rob Douglas) but as someone who has a hard time with change initially I also miss the Council of 2011 - 2014. We were called a lot of things, (won't repeat them) but one thing I do know about each and every one who served, they were and are passionate about this place we all call home. Thank you Ruth Hartmann, John Koury, Jon Lefebure, Barb Lines, Al Siebring and Jen Woike. It was quite a ride!
I appreciated learning from everyone, including many citizens, and the wonderful and dedicated staff, whether or not we agreed.
We worked hard as a Council and got a lot accomplished, even through the forming and storming stage of group process. In our last few months, in spite of the incredible challenges and disagreements during our term, we seemed to reach the norming stage. There were even several unanimous votes!
I wish those who are no longer at the table all the best in their future endeavours. It was an honour to serve with you and I am appreciative of your contributions.
And to those who will sit together for the next four years -- there is one thing I know for sure -- we will grow immensely together.
May our efforts support an ever increasing safe and inclusive valley, a valley that does its best to look out for all of its citizens, today and in the future.
Recently, all but Councillor Walker (who came down with a nasty virus and had to cancel) attended the LGLA (Local Government Leadership Academy) 2015 Elected Officials Seminar.
This seminar happens after every election in 5 or 6 locations. Designed to educate newly elected and returning Councillors in their roles and assist them in the steep learning curve this public service entails, the seminar did not disappoint. I will use much of what I learned in the upcoming deliberations Council will have on priorities and budgeting and yes -- tax rates.
DNC's Mayor and CVRD Chair, Jon Lefebure was one of four mayors asked to speak at an evening session. Mayor Lefebure shared with all present that he sees his role largely to help every Councillor be successful. He gave very sage advice that I think could apply to all of us in the district, whether we sit on Council, work for the Muni or are citizens who want to engage with the local government process, so with his permission, I would like to share them. I think they might help us all understand how sometimes what a candidate promises seems to be somewhat different from what they do while in office. (as I often told people leading up to the election -- you don't know what you don't know) Mayor Lefebure's comments are numbered, my additions are bracketed.
1. Never think something is right just because you believe it is right. (which leads to)
2. Be open to rational arguments from staff, the public and your colleagues. (wise advice no matter where you work)
3. Agree when you can -- disagree when you must.
4. When debating, don't refute or call attention to other Councillors -- if you have a differing opinion merely respectfully share it. (this helps us become a team and in a wider context, a community)
5. Don't come to a hard and fast opinion, (so you are stuck on it) or write a blog post or publicly state said opinion before a meeting. (Under the Community Charter, Council is required to keep an open mind. The best decisions come from listening, to one another, citizens and staff.)
6. Please be respectful to the municipal staff and the organization you are part of. (nothing irks me more about this 'job' than hearing negative comments about or to the professional public servants who take care of our needs by running the day to day operations of our local governments, whether that is from Council [not cool], or from citizens. Do I think staff are perfect? Not any more than you and I are. But just like you and I, and everyone else, they deserve respect.)
He finished his comments by saying that in all his 13 years on Council, when investigating complaints against staff, in most cases they have done their best to do a professional job, leading to:
7. Don't attack staff in public --or ever -- it hurts the organization. ( If a citizen or a Councillor has a concern, take it to the appropriate staff person and if not satisfied go up the ladder, and if need be, bring your concern to Council. Even the gravest concerns can be shared in a respectful way.
In fact, IMHO, civilization in the sense of a civil society depends on it.)