Now that the dust has settled on another municipal election, it’s time for Greater Sudbury’s new council to roll up its sleeves.
As tiring as campaigning is, getting elected is the easiest part of the job. The hard part, the real challenge, is to live up to promises made and expectations fostered.
For those whose chosen candidate for mayor or ward councillor didn’t end up with a seat at the table, the result might be a difficult pill to swallow — especially if the winning candidate is on the other end of your preferred political spectrum.
As NorthernLife.ca has argued repeatedly during the campaign, the city is at a crossroads.
We have deteriorating infrastructure that needs repair and an aging population requiring special consideration when it comes to municipal services.
We have neighbouring cities who are doing a better job of attracting new industry and keeping the industry they do have happy.
We have a population trained by years of disingenuous campaign promises to expect more services and lower taxes at the same time.
These and other challenges require a council capable of turning the page on the past four years of stagnation, bitterness and intractability.
It won’t be easy. There must be disagreements; there are going to be hurt feelings. There will likely be accusations of promises broken.
But the council we’ve elected must argue and debate with a clear goal in mind: Decisions must be made for the benefit of Greater Sudbury.
To benefit the whole, some parts of that whole must gain while other parts lose — with the realization that as Greater Sudburians, we will all benefit in the long run.
To those new faces on the council table, your constituents have placed a great deal of trust in you. Return that trust by making decisions rationally, not emotionally.
A popularity contest this might be, but now that you’ve earned the crown and the sash, it isn’t time to pack up your gown, call it a night and check out for the next four years.
The citizens of your ward expect you to make informed, educated choices in their best interests. That will mean casting a vote that isn’t popular with your fellow councillors from time to time.
It will mean casting a vote that will be unpopular with the people who elected you, even if you feel it is in their best interests.
You weren’t elected for the purpose of being re-elected — part of the reason Greater Sudbury faces today’s challenges is because too many elected officials had their eyes on the next election, instead of the next decision, and governed accordingly. Don’t make that same mistake.
To those incumbents who were returned to their seats, the city is watching. You were part of one of the most unproductive and dysfunctional municipal councils this city has seen. In choosing a mayor, voters have once again signalled a hunger for change, for fresh ideas and new directions.
In 2010, the election of Marianne Matichuk to the mayor’s seat was another clear signal for change, a signal many of you ignored. Respect the voters’ choice this term.
This does not mean blindly supporting every mayoral initiative and idea, but it doesn’t mean shooting every one of them down either without thought or consideration.
The mayor might be a person, but he is also the living embodiment of the prevailing opinion of voters across this massive, sparsely populated, spread out city we call Greater Sudbury — and this time, voters want their opinion to be given the respect it deserves.
Many promises were made during this election. We shouldn’t expect all of them will be kept. But council’s job is — as closely as possible — to live up to our expectations.
Our job is to hold them to account.