How will council's performance impact the fall election?
We’ve got an election coming up in a little more than six months. It’s hard to fathom that this council has been on the job for three and a half years without any major upheavals. There’s good reason – the mayor and the eight councillors have been working together.
That’s a far cry from the outrageous spectacle of the previous council which sued the mayor of the day and had one of their own members arrested. And a number of senior staff took early retirement to get out of the firing line. Not surprisingly and justifiably, there was a large turnover of councillors in the election that followed.
In conversations with council members you gather that there is recognition that not everyone is on the same page all the time, but they iron out their differences without blowing them up on the front pages.
In the past, during my newspaper days, before each election, I assessed the performances of councils of the day, including individual council members. It was easier then when some council members wore their political partisanship on their sleeves and it spilled over into council meetings. Councils used to be split 5-4 with NDP and Social Credit supporters. It depended on which group had the all-important fifth member, it changed from election to election.
In the past three and a half years, no one individual council member created situations that had to be toned down other than one member who didn’t make a clear delineation between his council role and that of a private citizen at anti-logging demonstration.
Also, an assessment of this council and the one previous has to examine the role of the senior city staff and who leads them, the chief administrative officer. Good CAOs usually wind up with good councils. Jake Rudolph’s term has been a 180-degree turn from the previous administration and that has played a tremendous role in how council has performed. Top marks there.
Usually at about this time there is coffee row chatter about who might challenge council members in the election but all seems quiet on that front. That would tend to tell us most people are quite satisfied with what they have, from the mayor on to the eight councillors.
Dissatisfaction with the performance of elected officials leads to people trying to unseat them. The dissatisfaction factor is not evident at this point, but remember, it would not be Nanaimo if we didn’t have the usual one to three dozen candidates when registrations close. It will be an interesting time, to say the least.