Leading Up To The October 22 Chatham-Kent Municipal Election—Part Six

As we come closer to the municipal election, I’ve been thinking about what Chatham-Kent residents might want to say to their municipal representatives.

A Note About Entries

Leading Up To The October 22 Chatham-Kent Municipal Election will provide information (interesting and helpful information, I hope) about the powers, duties, and functions of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, from garbage collection to mayor and councillors; about voting; about resident’s opinions on the effectiveness of the Municipality; and perhaps about possible improvements.

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Clair Culliford

The Entries, So Far
Part 1. About The Municipality Of Chatham-Kent
Part 2. About Ontario Municipalities

Part 3. Wards, Mayor, Councillors, Council, School Board Representatives, & Voting―#1
Part 4. Wards, Mayor, Councillors, Council, School Board Representatives, & Voting―#2
Part 5. A Proposal To Help Voters Decide Which Candidate To Vote For

Part 6: What Chatham-Kentians Might Want To Say To The Newly-Elected Council

As we come closer to the municipal election, I’ve been thinking about what Chatham-Kent residents might want to say to their municipal representatives.

1. To The Mayor

The Mayor is the only member of Chatham-Kent Council that is elected by people from all over the municipality. Councillors are elected by those who live in the ward for which the candidate runs.

The Mayor should therefore, as much as possible, represent the people of Chatham-Kent.

Chatham-Kent residents are a mixed bunch. Some are staunchly rural and some urban; some lean to the left and some to the right; some are dyed-in-the-wool Green and some dislike the colour; some enjoy hockey lots and some little; some are pro-or-anti union; etc.

The great majority of us, however, are most interested in having a well-functioning, well-governed municipality.

A good Mayor, therefore, cannot be markedly left or right, be excessively Green, favour the town over the country, and so on.

It is up to the Mayor to lead Council to work for the good of all in Chatham-Kent. She or he must be an open answerer of questions and be open to both new and old ideas.

He or she must be willing to speak directly to residents of Chatham-Kent, rather than falling into the official, watery, always hopeful, evasive gobbledygook that comes too easily to some elected officials.

She or he must possess at least a little wisdom.

He or she must be a good listener and an entertaining talker.

2. To Councillors

A Councillor must have a balance of working for the people who live in his or her ward and of working for the big municipality of Chatham-Kent.

Some Councillors seem to spend most of their time working for their constituents in one of the Municipality’s six wards.

Other Councillors seem to neglect their ward in favour of municipal-wide projects or problems.

Too much of one or not enough of the other makes a Councillor less effective.

For Chatham-Kent to be a well-run municipality, the Mayor, each Councillor (or most of them), and the Council as a whole should be close to having a balance of the small and the large, the local and the municipal-wide.

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Councillors need to act wisely and well in each of the following three situations.

1. Sometimes, a matter that benefits a Councillor’s ward may not be good for the Municipality as a whole. Councillors must be willing to explain this to the people in her or his own ward, though it might lose the Councillor some popularity and votes.

2. Sometimes, a matter that benefits the Municipality as a whole may not be good for the Councillor’s ward. A Councillor must explain this to people and accept the consequences.

3. Occasionally, there may be something good for the Municipality as a whole but so bad for the councillor’s ward that the Councillor must say no to Council and the Municipality.

3. To Council

Chatham-Kentians would like the Municipality of Chatham-Kent Council to have more of what is usually called common sense.

There is nothing common, alas, about this sort of sense. We could use much more of it.

Common sense is the ability to look carefully at every aspect of a problem or a plan, at “every part of the picture”; then to decide what is most, middling, and least important; and then to budget effort, time, and money accordingly.

It is what successful, thriving families, small or large businesses, and other organizations possess, though it is called by different names.

Sometimes, Councils seem to have made decisions based on whichever way the wind was blowing, on whatever was politically convenient, or on what seemed to be a good idea at the time.

Chatham-Kentians rightly expect that Council will be capable of governing a corporation with a 317 million dollar budget.

Council must be a good leader of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent’s departments, services, boards, and so on and especially of upper management—Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer, heads of departments, etc.

Council needs good, effective staff to provide needed reports and recommendations. It also needs to closely question reports and recommendations, to ensure that staff is working at their best.

Some Ontario Municipal Councils accept too easily what staff tells them; some too easily disregard what staff tells them. Chatham-Kent will be a better-governed municipality if a good balance is found and maintained.

Good leadership from Council will help ensure that the departments, services, etc., work well and efficiently together.

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