To the victors go the spoils
By Ian Cobb
Another civic election has come and gone and new governments are set to start governing.
There wasn’t a great deal of turnover in the East Kootenay, so local government staff members won’t have to burn the midnight oil too badly in terms of bringing newly elected people up to speed.
The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors meeting in November will feature some new faces, including the notable departure of City of Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano who was defeated by Coun. Ange Qualizza.
RDEK Electoral Area F will also feature a new director with Susan Clovechok replacing Wendy Booth who is seeking the Kootenay-Columbia Conservative Party nomination.
The Village of Canal Flats will have a new director as former director/mayor Ute Juras is now a District of Invermere council member. As the mayor is usually the RDEK director, it is likely that Mayor-elect Karl Sterzer will join the board.
Also on Invermere council is former mayor and RDEK director Gerry Taft, with former Coun. Al Miller now stepping up as mayor and likely the district’s new regional director.
Two other RDEK area directors re-captured their seats, with Electoral Area E Director Jane Walter and Area G Director Gerry Wilkie returning to the board.
The District of Sparwood’s director will be an ‘old face’ returning in the form of Mayor-elect David Wilks, a past RDEK director and district mayor, as well as Kootenay-Columbia MP.
Most municipalities in the East Kootenay will have new directors mayor-side at the first meetings in November, but overall there were no major sweeps, with Fernie (four new councillors) seeing the most turnover and Elkford (three new councillors).
Now that you see things as clear as a mud flat, please join us in welcoming the newly elected to the public stage. It is a different world than the one you think you may still be in.
First-time elected people usually have epiphanies in the second or third month in power, sometimes sooner, depending on when the first budget discussion occurs.
If they enter office with a big ‘to do’ list and getting those things done requires money, which it always does, they learn tout suite about the adage ‘there is only one taxpayer.’
Municipalities still get the short end of the tax trough. Municipalities are the young and weak in the natural world. Once the strongest and largest have eaten their fill, they may then begin trying to round up the scraps.
The newly elected will also quickly learn that personal space shrinks, quite rapidly, depending on the issues before them.
The newly elected also quickly realize that to the victor go the spoils of the previous council or board.
Welcome to the world of rezoning and official community plan public hearings. Welcome to the stage where you sit before a wide array of NIMBYs – usually always alive with a righteousness that, if you are a fair and broad person, you will understand and feel for but find yourself faced with difficult decisions.
You may lose friends.
This is all old hat to the re-elected and to those who have served their communities in the past. And they could add thousands more words to what I just said.
People who don’t observe local politics on a daily basis have no idea as to exactly how much stress, pain and distress is felt by elected officials, who generally earn peanuts for the right to represent their communities.
Of course there is plenty for them to feel good about, too. Overall, we are quite blessed in the East Kootenay as most of our communities are growing or at least holding steady, even Canal Flats which experienced what could have been a death blow when the mill was closed.
Positive developments are occurring in every part of the region, municipal and Electoral Areas.
That means our local government officials have been doing a solid job on our behalf.
Growing pains and the games of politics are always there. There are always those who are discontent, often for very good reasons. Oftentimes it is just petty nastiness. Just like life.
Those are the spoils of electoral victory.
Are you prepared to take them on?
Good luck and always remember, your constituents are watching you.
Perform to your best standards.
And to all the re-elected; congratulations. The second term is always harder than the first!
In closing we wish to offer heartfelt best wishes and thanks to Mary Giuliano who has served the City of Fernie with great distinction and passion. Hold your head high Mary. I have covered the work of many dozens of mayors over the years and rarely have I come across one so completely devoted to their job and bailiwick.
– Ian Cobb is owner/editor of e-KNOW