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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

My address to the BMRA-AGM May 7th, 2016

My experience as a Rookie Councilor (so far)

I’m often asked “how does it feel being on Council and how’s it going?” Simple questions but ones that are very difficult to answer. Cathy says stop scratching your head but I think it’s more me scratching my head for answers.

As you know I served as your President for 6 years and fought a number of battles with the Town. So I decided that being part of making changes would be easier and more fun than asking for changes and I ran for Council. Fortunate for me, the electorate, thanks to the Ratepayers’ Association, gave me overwhelming support and I was only 42 votes short of the highest number of votes. I tell everyone who listens that I would have beaten Michael Martin if I hadn’t campaigned for him.

Probably the results were a good omen, because Michael has been a great mentor and inspiration to me to fight harder but think smarter.

Like every new councilor, I came into office with great expectations, ready to make that big splash and lobby for changes in the way previous Councils handled of municipal affairs – to be more open, transparent as well as provide better communication consultation with the public. What I’ve found is that the process of “politicking” and stick-handling your way through issues is quite challenging – both with Council and staff.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are a big part of my workload. Add to this the many Council, Committee and Board meetings and consulting with the Public, I can say that my duties as a Councilor translate into almost a full-time job.

It’s taken me the first 1 ½ years of my term to understand my role as a Councilor.

During my first year, I had a steady diet of lectures, seminars, workshops and training sessions, mostly on municipal governance and how to conduct myself as a Councilor. I’ve learned that in order to be a true politician, or at least look like one, you need to thoroughly know the procedures, code of conduct, code of ethics, rules of order, rules of debate, or your challenges at Council and with staff will just go astray.

So my answer to the simple questions – I’m enjoying the challenge, even though frustrating at times, but I hope that with a 1 1/2 years of experience behind me now, I can be a better politician than just an advocate. I hope that the next 2.5 years will better define the success (or possible failure) of my term as it comes to an end in 2018.