Sunday, October 4, 2009

Once More With Feeling

Yes, as you’ve probably heard, I decided to run again for the honour and responsibility of representing Ward Three on city council. Then, a couple of days after I announced my intentions and filed my papers, I found out that I was acclaimed, for the first time in my political history. I was quite surprised at the acclamation - usually there have been multiple people interested in the job. While the acclamation removes the uncertainty, and will make the next month less nerve-wracking for me, it does lessen the opportunity to fully discuss issues leading into the election. I will continue to raise these issues at council, and on this blog. I hope that the people of Ward Three remember that there are still two other areas that will require their vote - the contest for mayor, and the public school board elections.

So far, this is an odd election. In past years, candidates, including me, have usually declared in early September. This year there was a mere trickle of announcements, and even in the last week it wasn't a deluge. Perhaps other potential candidates were going through some of the same internal discussions that I went through over the last few months.

Although the personal support from ward residents has been overwhelming, especially over the past year or so, this wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. This term on council was certainly my most challenging so far, and probably the least satisfying. Still, small steps of progress were made in areas that are important to me – approval of secondary suites in all areas of the city should help to make affordable housing easier to find, and we approved the rezoning that will allow the building of duplexes geared for middle-income families in the West Hill area. And blue bins are, after seven years of paying for them, finally across the city.

But there were far more incidents of questions going unanswered, of decisions being rushed through, of discussions being cut off, which adds up to frustration over missed opportunities. And more than one individual has asked me why I continue to pound my head against the proverbial wall.

But after thinking it through and talking it over with Andrea and several close friends, I decided to try once more. For a few reasons, really. One is the number of people who told me that council needs more people like me – people who realize that just showing up isn’t enough, that you have to be prepared to ask tough questions, offer options, and seriously consider the impacts of decisions. If I don’t run for council, that’s one less person like me, and I felt that I would be letting the residents of Ward Three down.

The second reason is that this council has made financial decisions that will be very difficult to deal with over the next term or two of council. While I may not have supported these decisions, and I may have warned the best I could of the hole that we were digging ourselves and future councils into, I was still part of the council that made those decisions, and I feel that I owe it to the city to try to clean up the mess.

And finally, I would miss the opportunity to help out residents of Ward Three in matters big and small – whether it’s been working with Bylaw Enforcement to get a drug house closed, or helping a neighbourhood get their street paved, or just listening to people’s concerns and ideas about what might help the city work better – this is why I got into this several years ago. I’ve never forgotten that I work for the people of Ward Three, and that’s the most satisfying part of the job.

I have nine years of experience that shouldn’t be minimized or overlooked – here’s hoping that the next council, whoever ends up on it, recognizes the need to work together and utilize every resource available to solve our problems for the long-term good of the city – a council that puts that goal ahead of everything else.

“A community is only a community when the majority of its members are making the transition from “the community for myself” to “myself for the community””. – Jean Vanier

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