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The APSLEY VOICE
October / November 2003
|by Elizabeth (Sissy) Tanner
After a number of years serving on our local council, I have come to the conclusion that in politics nothing is black & white, everything is gray and dependant on the mix, it could be many shades of gray. The gray areas in local government are a result of a combination of things. First and foremost is the fact that municipalities are a creation of the Province and all powers vested in it are provided in the Municipal Act and a variety of other statutes relating to Municipal matters. The first Municipal Act was passed in 1849. Now in the 21st century we have a new Act, not tried or tested as of yet.
The original creation of our system of Government was intended to be Black & White. However, once you include the human factor, those men & women willing to represent your interest in the community, with all their life experiences, assumptions and sometimes baggage, that will flavour their interpretation of the new Municipal Act you get gray. Democracy insist that all issues are put to a vote and the majority rules. As with local council, five individuals that may not think alike, may not have the same agenda or the same priorities, resulting in an outcome very different than expected. Pressures from special interest groups can create competition for limited sources coloring the decision making process. Even in families there may be differing opinions on issues, another shade of gray.
So how do you appoint citizens to represent your interests in this community? You exercise your right to vote. ( In many countries that right is non-existent) You don’t do it by blindly following someone else’s advise. You take the time to investigate the candidates, understand where their priorities rest and convince yourself that they are aware of the issues. Ensure they have enough information to have a position on the issues and will be able advance that position at the council table. Most important, does it reflect your view!
So why am I telling you all this? My term on council is fast drawing to a close. It was a wonderful experience. One I would recommend to all property owners. I met some amazing people, worked with very dedicated professional public servants and learned more than is possible in the traditional halls of learning. I want to thank the residents of North Kawartha for this opportunity.
My experience as a municipal politician has taught me to always take my right to vote seriously. I won’t be mislead by personality, vague promises or third party persuasion. What I will be asking the candidates in the upcoming election is: How active have you been in community events? What service organizations do you belong to? For it is the Volunteers of the fire department, library Lions Club, community centres and many others that hold this township together as a community. My philosophy is tell me what you have done for the community not what you are going to do to it. I will ask how many committees he/she has sat on, how many council meetings have you attended? This will indicate to me how deeply they understand the issues. Can you bring an objective view that symbolizes fairness for the whole township or are you representing a special interest group. I will have some pertinent questions prepared that will relate solely to my quality of life and the answers will be one of the measures in my decision where to put the X.
I entered the political world saying, “if I was on council I would do things differently”. I learned fairly quickly that I was bound by the authorities allowed under the municipal act, I was one vote in five and that for every action there was an equal and opposite reaction. I still believe in good government and the democratic process. This is why I take my right to vote so seriously. I encourage you to do the same.
Thanks again to the residents of North Kawartha for
your support, your constructive criticism and for the opportunity to serve
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Other Pages in The Apsley Voice for October / November, 2003 ...Page 1: Our Reeve's Parting Remarks