One mayor’s candid discussion on involving onself in public service

From my perspective as Mayor for over eight years and working for my community for over 40 years, I have seen the village grow, and become more complex in its makeup of governance, economics and social needs and wants. The village is having to consider environmental challenges, aging demographics, and the constant downloading from senior governments on to us. Local government receives only eight cents of every tax dollar, yet is expected to provide absolutely pure water, efficient and safe liquid waste disposal systems, parks, good roads and more sidewalks, recreation facilities, fire protection and up-to-date by-laws to carry out orderly development into the future. These demands constantly challenge our staff, council and our citizens.

From my perspective as Mayor for over eight years and working for my community for over 40 years, I have seen the village grow, and become more complex in its makeup of governance, economics and social needs and wants. The village is having to consider environmental challenges, aging demographics, and the constant downloading from senior governments on to us. Local government receives only eight cents of every tax dollar, yet is expected to provide absolutely pure water, efficient and safe liquid waste disposal systems, parks, good roads and more sidewalks, recreation facilities, fire protection and up-to-date by-laws to carry out orderly development into the future. These demands constantly challenge our staff, council and our citizens.

I know our current council takes all their obligations very seriously and work hard for the betterment of the village and the surrounding area.

Yet, we have outspoken citizens in the community who may not have their facts completely accurate, and criticize council and staff. However, these folks do not offer viable alternative courses of action for the issues they raise.

In my past business profession and during eight years as Mayor, I have become somewhat hardened to the attitude towards elected officials. This, attitude, unfortunately, is the reason why some capable citizens would never run for council or mayor.

Keremeos needs local government candidates who strive to make their community a better place to live. Keremeos needs people who always have their eyes “wide open” as to what is going on and what could be done to improve the appearance of their community, the community’s amenities, and the well being of the community’s citizens, in a fiscally, responsible manner. We need candidates who represent the majority of our citizens (young and old), and not focussed on a special interest ‘splinter’ group.

We, like a lot of communities, are facing a marked decrease in our ability to capture the enthusiasm of the younger generation in terms of volunteering and an interest in running for council. Keremeos, as must all communities, have a strong and active volunteer base, not just to survive, but to thrive. Municipal budgets, especially of small communities, cannot alone afford to provide the variety of services and activities our citizens have grown to expect.

In the last two elections, in Keremeos, all four councillors were elected by acclamation. This indicates to me that either a serious case of apathy existed, or our citizens felt they had an excellent slate of councillors from which to guide the village. For the upcoming 2011 local government elections, I would be pleased to see seven or eight capable persons putting their names forward for council.

Do we have the citizens/volunteers who have the dedication, common sense, and knowledge to put in three years on council?

It is demanding and time consuming; it may conflict with your employment, or it may interfere with your winter vacations.

It will probably affect your spouse and family. But please remember, the world is run by those who show up!

Food for thought, Keremeos!