I’ve had eight years to reflect on my experience on city council.
Over that time, I’ve watched two councils and 13 people put themselves forward in service to their community. Until you sit there, you have no idea what the role will encompass. My time on council was some of the most difficult and often very rewarding work I have had the pleasure of being involved in.
We were newly amalgamated during my first and second term and there were, and still are, many bumps to be worked out.
We have not settled on a leadership style in the 20 years since. This really is to the detriment of our whole community. We read reports of stagnant growth and as the boomers continue to age, we will soon be left with an even smaller tax base of home owners to cover the expenses of this vast territory that is Greater Sudbury.
The last two elections saw mayors step forward who claimed things were a mess at City Hall and that they could “fix it.”
In the first four years, things ground to a halt. Between the battles with the ombudsman and serious in-fighting, very little was accomplished.
During the last four years, we have spent millions in severance pay getting rid of staff who leadership saw as the “problem.”
The current mayor claims in a Q&A that he has “proven experience in municipal finance, administration and service delivery” and that is what makes him the best candidate for the job.
Trouble is, that’s not the job of the mayor. We pay educated, experienced staff for their management of municipal finance, administration and service delivery. What we need in a mayor is leadership. We need a leader who is engaged and who can inspire. Someone who can gather the diverse body that is our community and step up with a plan to move us forward.
We need someone to engage across the sectors – business, industry, education, health, non-profit, arts and culture, environment, youth, seniors and all those in between; someone who has a track record of building great things out of very humble beginnings.
That has been my experience with Patricia Mills.
Coming to Sudbury as a young widow with a child. Getting an education. Working at Northern Life. Moving on to manage Laurentian Publishing. Launching great initiatives like the Community Builders Awards, Influential Women, Forty under 40. Taking the NEO Kids Foundation to incredible heights.
I worry about the future of our community. Stagnant growth and an aging population are a recipe for disaster. Many communities have faced similar challenges and have risen to the occasion. Strong leadership with engaged partners will make the difference. Patricia Mills has the skills, vision, energy and leadership skills to make this happen. That’s why I want Patricia Mills to be our next mayor.
Retired director of the Social Planning Council of Sudbury
City Councillor Ward 11 2003 - 2010