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COMMENTARY · 26th October 2010
Steve Connolly
On November 20, the citizens of Kitimat will be voting for an important vacant councillor position to be filled. For municipal elections across Canada, voter turnout is usually poor, except in critical situations. For Kitimat folks, this election is critical. Here’s why.

The City is challenged with an economic downfall. At the same time, unfortunately, it is challenged with leadership dysfunction, not all of it is related to members of the Council. More than ever, though, a Council demonstrating leadership and teamwork is required. In addition, even a well functioning Council cannot be expected to deal with recovering the economy alone. Citizens everywhere need to contribute, such as is being demonstrated by the good volunteers on the Kitimat Retirement Committee. At the very least, citizens can start contributing by voting in the imminent election.

Over the past year, my many contacts in the City have unanimously informed me that, with Richard McLaren’ s presence, there were at least two councillors who regularly demonstrated teamwork, correct focus and a strong desire to help the City. It is also unanimous that there are members of Council who consistently demonstrate animosity, division, pettiness and poor leadership at a time when cooperation and leadership are most called for. Everyone knows who they are. This feeling is not just held by residents of Kitimat.

The reason that there are six candidates competing for the open councillor position represents the great concern that citizens have for demanding that the dysfunction stop. The candidates deserve great credit for trying to contribute in this way to help their City.

Given the current situation, until the next election, sadly, the entrenched dysfunction will continue. From what I am hearing, only one or two present Council members will have a chance of being re-elected at the end of this mandate. However, the current dysfunction can be contained to some extent if the citizens choose the new councillor carefully. If four councillors can find compromise and work together, then team decisions can be made with little attention paid to those members of Council who continue to inhibit helping the City.

Citizens should vote for a candidate who has experience and, in particular, who also has a reputation for compromise, objectivity, and an ability to work with others respectfully. In particular, the candidate of choice needs to express a strong desire to help end the dysfunction and to organize the City’ s many capable resources to urgently and professionally deal with overcoming the economic downfall.

Citizens will be shooting the City in the foot if they vote for any candidate who has an affiliation with those who are known to be causes of the dysfunction.

It is of great importance that the citizens of Kitimat contribute by turning out to vote in large numbers. This will guarantee a good councillor for the benefit of the City and, most importantly, will send a clear message to City leaders that dysfunction is not acceptable or tolerated.

Steve Connolly