Rejoice, politicos — 2014 marks a civic election year and another opportunity to effect change in our communities.
While we don’t have to choose between “Ford More Years” and sanity, we will be making decisions. With no candidates yet declared in Whistler and Pemberton, it’s difficult to speculate about exactly what those decisions will be. Will we be asked to choose between green candidates and pro-development ones? Will we be choosing between familiar faces or new ones? Will the choices all seem so dismal that we’ll hold our noses and vote for lesser evils? Hard to say today, but one thing is certain, there will be a mayoral race in Pemberton without an incumbent candidate.
After serving the Village of Pemberton for the better part of three terms, Mayor Jordan Sturdy is stepping down next month so he can spend more time being MLA Jordan Sturdy. This is an excellent, if long overdue, move on Sturdy’s part. The optics of holding two political offices — receiving salaries for both, yet not being able to dedicate 100 per cent of your time to either — were not good, even if the Liberals don’t like to make a habit of sitting in the legislature.
Even without having to spend the bulk of his time as a new MLA on the Island, Sturdy has to serve a constituency that stretches from West Vancouver to Pemberton, a block of citizens that that is 20 times larger than the one he served in Pemberton. With that in mind, where would you put in your energy if you held both positions?
Once Sturdy is officially finished at the Village of Pemberton, his position will be filled by a rotation of the remaining four councillors according to council’s pre-determined acting mayor schedule. Some may feel very comfortable in the mayoral chair and seek to make that their permanent seat come November. This creates a very interesting opportunity for Pemberton voters.
It’s long been known that many people vote on name recognition or who’s at the top of the ballot — platforms be damned. Other voters are swayed by what they hear at all candidates’ meetings. However, there’s a big difference between being a candidate and being an elected official. That’s why I’m encouraging all area voters to go to at least two or three council meetings in the months leading up to the election. Getting a view of your local politicians in action can be a real eye-opener.
I remember an elementary school trip to Victoria to see government in action. We politely and quietly filed into the legislature and took our seats in the gallery. What I saw shocked me. The behaviour of our elected officials was frankly disgusting, they shouted each other down, threw their feet up on their desks, pretended to nap and basically behaved like a bunch of spoiled children. I couldn’t understand why anyone had voted them in.
To their credit, I have never seen any elected official in the corridor engage in such infantile behaviour at council meetings. But what I have seen, over and over again, is people who seem afraid to lead or voice dissent amongst their colleagues, instead choosing to rely on the recommendations of municipal staff.
If we are going to progress, we need people who aren’t afraid to lead. To find those people we have to start looking now and the best place to start is in council chambers. Spending a couple of evenings there will undoubtedly effect the way your vote come November.