10.6 C
Saturday, December 3, 2022
Opinion: Take time to consider the candidates and the issues
Clare Cameron. File

Coun. Clare Cameron
Special to The Lake Report

Election day is Monday, Oct. 24, and though I am not running for re-election this year, I have been watching this campaign closely.

I want to encourage everyone from across our entire community to get out and vote.

Voting is easy and so important: In 2018, Niagara-on-the-Lake had the highest voter turnout of any municipality in Niagara at 58 per cent. You can be part of increasing that even more this year.

Municipal councillors make critical decisions about development, traffic, recreation, infrastructure, budgets, taxes and many more community services. Council decisions are often swayed by those who take the time to show up and speak the loudest. If you care about the future of NOTL, express yourself – and vote.

The choice is yours: You can vote for up to eight candidates for council. You don’t have to vote for eight. If you only feel strongly about a few candidates, just vote for those few. It will help your favourite candidate(s) if you are selective with voting and don’t throw away votes on people that you don’t feel sure about.

Think for yourself: Just like four years ago, people are creating lists of councillor candidates that they want to be elected together. You don’t have to think the same way. What motivates someone to create a list? What are their criteria? Is it skills and qualifications? Is it personality or values? Are they aiming to have a council that never disagrees or challenges each other? How can you trust these recommendations?

Endorsements do matter and are worth considering. Yet you have the power to make up your own mind. One of the unique and amazing things about municipal politics is that there are no parties and people (should) run as independent individuals. Do some research and decide for yourself.

Leadership matters, relationships matter: Under the Municipal Act, the lord mayor is head of council and the town’s chief executive officer. And while being the CEO of a municipality is different from being the CEO of a private corporation, these are still huge responsibilities.

As head of council, you set the tone. Eight other councillors are expecting you to lead by example. As CEO, you receive an incredible amount of information, contacts and knowledge. You can choose to keep that to yourself or share it with your team.

And though the lord mayor is only one vote on council, they are also one of our two regional councillors. Whether your passion is infrastructure, heritage, development, health or housing, this role provides incredibly important leadership and represents our entire community at other levels of government. It is a role where the depth and quality of relationships truly matter.

Leaders come in many forms: Leaders can sweep in from the top or grow from within. They can dictate or collaborate. They can shut down in the face of opposition or lean in to resistance. They can have all the answers or be open to learning something new.

Leaders can treat people as instruments to serve a goal or approach others with openness to what might be possible by working together. Politicians plan for the next election; leaders plan for the next generation. Leaders can assign blame or own their role in an outcome. They can look great when dragging others down or shine on the merits of their own accomplishments.

Regardless of who is elected this year, I hope that all of our municipal representatives will work to be the latter kind of leader above.

We are so lucky: Niagara-on-the-Lake is a wonderful, historic, productive and unique place. The people who live and operate businesses here are right to feel passionate about the future and what it should look like.

As a parent raising two children here, I look forward to seeing this community continue to grow in a positive way. The kids constantly remind me, too, that while change and growth can be challenging, it can also be beautiful – and is a necessary part of life.

Good luck to every candidate and thank you for running.

And to the entire community, please get yourself to the ballot box.

Coun. Clare Cameron is a Niagara-on-the-Lake resident, business owner and the deputy lord mayor.