Election tips from departing councilor

Local papers do not normally print columns or letters from elected officials during election season. I’ve been granted an exception, as I’m not running for re-election. Many thanks to the Editor for giving me an opportunity to express my appreciation to Rossland residents, and to encourage people to run for office.

Local papers do not normally print columns or letters from elected officials during election season. I’ve been granted an exception, as I’m not running for re-election.   Many thanks to the Editor for giving me an opportunity to express my appreciation to Rossland residents, and to encourage people to run for office.

To the people of Rossland:  thank you for electing me to Council! It has been a great learning experience, and a terrific opportunity to give back to the community that has welcomed and supported my family over the years.  Thanks to all who contacted me with concerns, and additional thanks to those same people for being polite and considerate while speaking with me.    I appreciate the gentleness with which I’ve been treated by residents.

Small town municipal Councils may be the only places where regular people – non-politicians – can step up to the plate and participate in local governance.

I think lots of people should give this a try, at least once in their life.  It’s a way to give back, and to make a difference.

It’s a terrific opportunity to learn how municipalities work, and to see first-hand the realities associated with delivering services.  It’s also a great way to come to understand the interchange between the complementary – but different – roles of residents, elected officials and City staff.    While the experience of being an elected official can be frustrating at times, it is more often rewarding – and always interesting.

Planning to run for office?   Here are some tips for prospective Councilors:

Show up: Make a commitment to attend Council meetings, as consistently as possible, over the duration of your term.

Be prepared: Read your information packages and agendas thoroughly, and do the background work before the meetings start.

Pull your own weight: The Mayor and Councilors act as liaisons to a variety of community groups. It’s important for each elected representative to carry his/her fair share of these duties.

Listen to your constituents: Feedback from residents can alert you to issues or realities that you might not be aware of.

Learn your role and do your best to stay within it: The role of a Councilor/Mayor is not the same as that of a community advocate or of a City staff person. Fortunately, elected representatives receive training on the ins and outs of their jobs at the beginning of each term of office.

Act with integrity: No one expects you to be perfect. Act with integrity and you can hold your head high.

Not running and want to make sure your voice is heard?    Here are some tips about contacting the City and Council:

Speak up: In general, take staff-related concerns to staff, and policy concerns to Council.  If you’re not sure who should hear your concerns, ask a staff person and/or a Councilor for advice.

Attend public information sessions: These sessions are great sources of information, and ready-made venues for providing feedback.

Take advantage of the Public Input Period that is held at the start of every regular Council meeting:  This provides a great opportunity for bringing your concerns or comments to Council.

Write letters: If you would like your letters to become a part of the public record, address them to Mayor and Council, and request that they be added to the information package and/or agenda.

Once again, to residents of Rossland, thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve on Council.  It has been a real privilege, and also an extraordinary learning opportunity.  Best wishes to all!

Hanne Smith

Rossland