As I write this, there are 105 days until six councillors and a mayor are elected to govern the city of Nelson for the next four years.
For a few months now there has been a buzz about town regarding who will run again and who might throw their hat in the ring for the first time or will there be some who mount a comeback. This week it kicked up a notch with a story in the Nelson Star entitled “Political group to challenge Nelson city council in upcoming elections — CORE Nelson is searching for candidates to run under its slate.”
Slates of candidates have been tried in Nelson in the past with very limited success. It will be interesting to see if CORE becomes a political party, as seen in larger jurisdictions like Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna.
As an individual who has now been on council at two different times, 1999 to 2002 and as a current sitting councillor, I write with some authority that you can not be all things to all people nor are you going to please all of the people all of the time. It is Nelson’s diversity, from its panhandlers to its internet entrepreneurs and government workers to nuclear physicists, that makes it great! It also makes it a challenge as leaders and governors of the Queen City of the Kootenays to find the appropriate balance. Your role as councillor or mayor once elected is to represent all of the citizens. Sometimes it seems no one is happy, and sometimes you drive one right out of the park! (Whoops, letting my bias show that I’m a little more sports than arts and culture.)
While I applaud the intentions of CORE I hope that if you are reading this and decide you would like to run that you don’t feel you need to join a group, slate or political party to participate in local government. Diversity around the table ensures for the most part that the best decisions are being made. Conflict is part of the job but so is coming to the table with the willingness to listen to views that are opposite to your own and have an open mind.
For those that have taken the time to read this far and are of the opinion that the last four years of this current council have accomplished nothing, I would encourage you to read a copy of the latest annual report, available on the city website. There you will see that numbers of new business licences are up, housing starts are up and work continues to be done and completed on very necessary infrastructure projects.
As always, if you would like to contact me I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to share my experience of being your representative on Nelson city council.