This question is a follow up of question #3.
How do you cope with the public’s expectations versus the reality of what you can accomplish once elected?
We are still a small town. We are on a limited budget and have many competing priorities and we can’t do it all. City staff spend 95% of the time dealing with what is already on their plate. Things needs to be approached in a systematic way and staff have displayed professionalism in doing that, but there is only so much they can do. There is only so much funding we can attract and only so much we can afford and everyone, Councillors included, need to be cognisant of these limitations. The community needs to be a part of the prioritization of community goals. I think we are experiencing a sort of existential angst in terms of where we are going as a community as we go through big changes, big economic changes and fundamental economic drivers. We need to touch base with each other and re affirm the direction we are going in.
I cope by trusting in my ability to look at the broader picture of what is best for all. I must be true to the face in the mirror. If he’s satisfied, then I know that I have done my job. People don’t come to talk to a Councillor just because we are nice people, they come because they feel a Councillor can clear the way for them to move their project forward to fruition.
Councillors can listen, hear the person’s perspective and then give insight around the Council Table.
As a Councillor, you are often required to make difficult decisions; but that is what you were elected to do, and the responsibility that you have. I found that the only way I could find peace with a decision, was to make sure I listened to the public and consulted with anyone I needed to. I also did all of the necessary reading of Council reports and information, asked questions of staff before or during a Council meeting for clarification, spent time thinking about the issue before the Council meeting and listened to and debated with the other Councillors at Council to hear their views. With that I usually felt comfortable with a decision I made.
I’ve always served on council because I like getting things done. I think that is what people look for from me and one of the reasons I have been elected. I can be hard on myself because I am there to make things progress and my own expectations are greater than those of the public. I can become impatient with the process or how I feel things are going. However, we only have a finite amount of resources, money and staff. The size of government in town means we can’t do everything and meet all of the expectations because we are limited in those resources.
For instance many cities and businesses have experienced a shortage of available employees this year. The City of Revelstoke had an opening for the building inspector position, a specialized trade that is usually not that easy to fill. We had one inspector and then had worked out a budget which would include two inspectors. Our first inspector then resigned to move away. At that time we found it difficult to find and hire one inspector let alone two, as we had planned. It’s one example of many where either the resources are there or the staff is available, but not both at the same time. It’s not just a Revelstoke problem. There are 65 job openings in BC alone for building inspectors. Also, in a municipal environment rather than a private enterprise, the hiring and interview process is very different.
I deal with the reality of what I can accomplish by being clear in my mind that I am making decisions that I feel are best for the whole community.