The municipal election is upon us.
Signs are going up. Slogans, clichés and all kinds of words will be thrown out. Experience, Leadership, Visionary, Communication, Caring, for example are hard to quantify, but look good.
The word that is important is “ACCOUNTABILITY” and one of the main reasons that we should move into a ward system.
The ward question is on the ballot this year but will not be implemented before the election in 2017, when our City’s population would be around 120,000.
Under the current system; who would be responsible and held accountable for deteriorating infrastructure in Glendale, misaligned traffic patterns in Deer Park, noise issues in Timberlake etc.? We know who and it will always be “The Other Guy.”
We do in fact have an unofficial ward system; it is defined by special interest groups, like the Downtown Business Association for example.
These special interest groups and advocates have the City council’s ear and unfortunately have enormous influence but represent only a small minority of citizens. While the majorities are ignored, they are still paying the bills.
I asked a councilor why there was no response to my question and the answer was: “I thought someone else was going to reply.”
That is the problem with having the “at-large system” in a city this size, no one takes responsibility and no one is held accountable.
Earlier this year a motion was brought forward to have a plebiscite on asking the citizens if they wanted a ward system as their method of representational municipal governance, but most of the councilors voted against the motion.
It is too important an issue for the unwashed population to decide, we will decide how the city will be governed.
A group of about 500 citizens banded together to organize a petition for 10,000 signatures to get the council to just ask the question of how the citizens of Red Deer want to be governed.
The councilors were gobsmacked, they did not realize how important the fundamentals of democracy were to the citizens and they recanted and now we are having the question.
The ward system for accountability is a simple slogan, and includes the big word of accountability which is sorely lacking.
Politicians dislike the ward system because their vote are usually in clumps throughout the city and in a ward system they would be more easily held accountable. The people of Red Deer just want a name or two to call when an issue comes up that interferes with their lives.
I believe for true accountability we need to start on the road to a ward system by the year 2017. On Oct. 21, I will be voting for eight councilors, one mayor, six school board trustees and for the ward system.