Guest Blog from Cindy Filipenko. This piece originally appeared as The Perky Pundit column in the Whistler Question.
Hello new councils. My congratulations to all of you who bravely threw your hats in the ring for a chance to help shape our communities.
Over the next four years there will be opportunities to consider, policies to adopt and by-laws to decide upon. A lot of what you’ll be doing is supporting the administration that is necessary to keep the wheels of government churning. It’s not sexy, but it is necessary. As you pass fourth and final readings on issues like placement of canine waste disposal dispensers, I will wince with you, but applaud your commitment to democracy.
However, every once in a while there will be possibilities to employ innovation and creativity. This is where you can really shine and prove your mettle — as long as you move forward on the platforms you were elected on. My advice: just be the “you” that your communities elected.
Let the values that you espoused at all candidates’ meetings, online and in print, be your guiding principles. If you promised fiscal responsibility, then don’t vote to spend taxes on unnecessary, nice-to-have projects. If economic development was a plank in your platform, then don’t pass policies that impede businesses trying to buy in. If you committed to affordable recreation, put your foot down before the blueprints for the new 13,000- person stadium have been drafted.
Simply vote the way that supports what you promised the people in the community, not what is expedient. Staff suggestions are only suggestions, and as such, they make excellent jumping off points for further discussion. The mayor, councillors and staff all have different points of view, backgrounds and areas of expertise — so let’s hear them all. However, always keep in mind that the ultimate decision on whether a project or idea moves forward is yours. We voted wisely, so you should too.
Creativity means breaking out of the box, taking risks and embracing the unconventional, the new and the sometimes unusual. Increase your community engagement with friendly, accessible ways for them to submit ideas.
Innovation comes from inspiration and inspiration can be found in your backyard. It’s found in the experts in your community. Business people. Parents. Coaches. Non-profit workers. Medical practitioners. Teachers. Tradespeople. Hoteliers. Restaurateurs. Seniors. Talk to them. Creative ideas are already out there, you just have to find them. And the best way to find them is to keep your mind, and your eyes, open.
If you make all your decisions through a filter of what you expressed while campaigning, you’re going to have a great term — a term where your work is supported and appreciated by the electorate.
Have an inspired four years. ~ Cindy Filipenko, guest blogger
To help achieve your council goals, Mo is offering Council SmartStart, a workshop that sets a successful foundation for new municipal councils. Click here for info.
Maureen Douglas, CPF-IAF, is a consultant and speaker on leadership, public engagement and community development. Follow Mo on Twitter.