As voting nears, let’s think about what direction City should really be going

We need a cooperative Council, not a 'CEO Mayor' intent on driving his own brand for the next four years

In less than three weeks, Sarnia residents will begin the 12-day electronic voting period that ends on Monday, October 22.

Personally,I can’t wait till it’s over, partly because it’s in my nature not to have much patience when it comes to unpleasantness and that’s what we appear to be seeing on various forums, including social media.

For the “race” to sit four City Council seats and the four City/County Council seats, it’s hard to pick out any front-runners among the 28 candidates for City Council and the 12 that hope to be a City/County representative.

The Mayoral race, on the other hand, is a bit more exciting.

One reason is that this is the first time in recent memory that there is a “real” chance for the incumbent to be unseated.

There are a number of political realities that deserve attention as the race for this spot nears its end.

One is a tendency that could be likened to Newton’s First Law of Energy: “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” In political terms, it means that people will tend to vote for the incumbent unless given a compelling reason to do otherwise.

In this case, that “compelling” reason is the incumbent’s insistence that there should be no physical separation between the so-called “political” wing of Sarnia City Hall and the area where employees do their work, even though the very reason for the City having created that physical separation was the Mayor’s well-documented workplace harassment and bullying toward some members of staff, which cost the City thousands in legal fees, a point that others seem to want to blame the accusers rather than the accused.

There may be problems at City Hall but it’s not with the people who are working there.

A second reality, also related to the Mayor’s race, is the incumbent’s insistence that the City administration is somehow out of line in doing what it was paid to do—which is to run the operations of the municipality on a daily basis, adhering to a budget that Council itself approved, and taking direction from Council when it comes to priorities and developing workable solutions in order to see those priorities become reality.

We are dealing with an argument here that is largely a fabricated one: that the operations related to the City of Sarnia are in desperate need of fixing and ONLY a substantive change in who sits on City Council is going to solve the problem.

How about this: there may be problems at City Hall but it’s not with the people who are working there.

The real opportunity is to bring in political leadership—and yes, I’m talking about the person who will take on the role of Mayor—who will work with staff and other members of Council in a cooperative, productive and visionary way.

We’ve gone past the time when it’s the Mayor alone that runs the City and takes the credit (or the blame) for what happens next.

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