What do you want in a local government leader?
By Anne Jardine
On Thursday, October 11, at the new Columbia Valley Hall in Invermere, community planning group Imagine Invermere hosted ‘Meet, Mingle, and Inquire.’
An election event that opened with a half-hour dedicated to a speed-dating style meet-the-candidates activity that involved a small group and one-to-one conversations, followed by the usual forum style public speaking exercise in answer to questions submitted by the voters, and ending with a kind of cross examination activity that had candidates asking and answering questions to each other.
The Imagine Invermere Committee’s intention was to stream live video of the public speaking part of the evening on their Facebook page to broaden the reach of the event, which was attended by only about 60 Invermere voters.
Members of the Imaging Invermere committee wanted to design Meet the Candidates night in a more engaging, interactive way than the usual approaches tend to do. They wanted to reveal more of the character of the candidates, and their unapologetic theme was sustainability – the group’s base value. For them, all decisions must be filtered by the question: how will what we do or decide move Invermere towards a healthy, sustainable future?
A few members of the host organization took a moment to answer this question:
What are the qualities of leadership you are looking for in a prospective local government leader?
Out at the door, greeting people as they arrived, Imagine Invermere Committee member, Barry Brown-John listed these as his top qualities in a candidate:
Sustainable growth is important;
Problem-solvers who want to improve infrastructure.
Paul Denchuk, another Imagine Invermere Committee member considers these as the most desirable qualities in a local government leader:
Sustainability as an important base value;
Accountability – the person needs to show up and do the work;
Respect – the person must be respectful at all times.
Julie Brown, Chair of the Imagine Invermere Steering Committee, responded,
First of all, I want people who care about the collective wellbeing. The qualities I most value are:
Ability to listen;
Ability to ask questions seeking to further understanding;
Ability to change one’s mind based on new information.
Natalie Forrest, Imagine Invermere volunteer, not on the steering committee, but helping to gather the audience questions, will be looking for these qualities:
Ability to listen.
As you head to the polls on Saturday, Oct. 20 to elect new mayors, councillors, Regional District of East Kootenay directors and school board trustees, consider what you want to see in your local government leaders.
Photos by Anne Jardine