Reader’s views on Council candidate qualifications

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An Opinion of What It Will Take

Karen Hirst

A post on Facebook asked the question of what one would look for in a candidate running for municipal office in the next election.

I have thought long and hard about this very important and timely question as election time will fast approach in 2018 and again we will be asked to make our selections from a list of candidates.

Of course there are the obvious human characteristics that we hope to find when interacting with each other. I’m thinking here of honesty and integrity, civility and good manners, demonstrated flexibility, respect for and co-operation with others to name only a few.

What is crucial and essential for the health and well-being of the individual thinking of running as a candidate is the knowledge that it is a position of service to the community and as a result requires a willingness and high level of self-awareness that allows for continuous public scrutiny, evaluation, and disagreement.

They often say that aging isn’t for sissies — well, public office certainly isn’t. Much is required of its officers — it is nothing less than a blood sport when things aren’t going well. We are not all made to withstand that level of service and expectation from others and still continue with the decorum and professionalism required of the position.

It is not uncommon for people to find themselves in positions they are not well suited for, unable through skill or knowledge to undertake ‘the whole’ of what is required and this leads to much anguish and discomfort often for both occupant of the position and those putting them there.

So I would say that candidates are best served with a well-rounded education and set of experiences. ‘Generalists’ with well-developed and demonstrated skills for effective communication with all manner of people from all socio-economic, demographic, rural and urban groups etc.

The Community Official Plan identifies the complexities of a jurisdiction like Mississippi Mills and that in turn requires candidates that can openly and honestly collaborate with a broad mix of constituents and bring to bear problem solving and conflict resolution skills that will effectively deal with a broad range of unique issues confronting the Municipality.

The candidate must recognize the need for and have that ‘magic’ personal touch that demonstrates and values current and past citizen contributions to the community; encourages others to appreciate and share in the joy for where they live and promote an understanding of how the public holds a joint responsibility to make the best of what resources and talents are available to the Municipality at any given time — prioritizing is a demanding task.

Success breeds success around a horseshoe consisting of talented, skilled, malleable and visionary leaders who find their enjoyment and feel a calling for conducting Municipal Affairs.

On the heels of an extended period of political kafuffle, the bar has been set high, the expectations will be many and there will be little leeway for not hitting the ground running — in today’s political climate governance isn’t easy at any level in the hierarchy.