We are one month from Nomination Day, a time when those wishing to run will step forward and file their $100 and a paper full of signatures so they can be added to the list of candidates for the 2013 Municipal General Election.
As of this writing Morinville has three residents who say they intend to run for mayor, seven who say they will run for Town Council, and one for whom running is a certainty, but for what is not yet clear. There will doubtlessly be others for a seat on Council and perhaps more for mayor as well.
The role of Council member is not a position one should entertain as a form of employment, a position through which to gain power or pursue financial gain, or a post by which to seek revenge for some past fine, slight or difference of opinion with government or its administration. The role of Council member is a position of public service, one in which the elected official represents the entire community, not just those voters they convinced to grant them a check mark on the ballot. Though it is part of the gig, cutting ribbons and waving from parade floats is not the sum total of the job.
Councillors are the stewards of public money. They are a group of seven who each have a vote to tighten or loosen the drawstrings of the public purse as they see fit. We see this during budget and we certainly see it throughout the year as community groups come for grant monies and when funds are sometimes of necessity shifted from one initiative to another.
Councillors are the lawmakers, creating bylaws that make sense for the community and those who live in it. They are the ones who also have the final word on what studies will be undertaken for the advancement of the community. Advancement rather than growth because moving forward does not always mean growing larger, though the two can sometimes be harmonious.
Whether as stewards of public monies, makers of bylaws or deciders of initiatives and studies, a Council that talks much but frequently delays decision making produces little but carbon dioxide, essential for the growth of plant life, but of little value to the growth or advancement of the community.
Those who would seek election, reelection or a step up the municipal ladder would do well to remember Council is the conduit between the ratepayer and the result. It is their job to take the will of the people and – if reasonable – deliver it to them in a fiscally responsible and efficient manner. Council stands between the resident and Administration. The former provides the request, need and funding. Administration provides the expertise and recommendations on how best to proceed or if proceeding is the best thing to do. Council is charged with making the best decision based on the expert information available at the time the decision is to be made.
Too often Councils defer, delay and restudy situations to avoid making decisions. That does not mean decisions must be made hastily. But decisions, including tough ones or unpopular ones, need to be made. Sending ideas back to the drawing board for more information is more a reflection on the inability or unwillingness of the deciders to decide than it is the quality or the quantity of the information on which the decision is to be made.
The next term is four years long and comes at a time that is crucial for this community. We need to elect a well-rounded Council who make decisions based on what is right for Morinville, not for what makes them popular with their supporters, backers, controllers or fan clubs.
In two months we will decide who the deciders will be. Let us decide well.