What the candidates say about: Bloc Voting – Part 2


(continued)

Joe Gardhouse (Candidate for Mayor)
Voting blocs are not possible if the Chair / CEO is carrying out the duties of that position properly.
Top 10 Board Chair’s Initiatives
As your new CEO (mayor) the following Best Practices will be introduced for the executive board’s (council) guidance and development.
1. An extensive local/county update business orientation for all board members.
2. A provincial governance education session with an emphasis on the Municipal Act and conflict of interest act.
3. A Planning Act Op/Zoning overview with special emphasis on best practices in Interaction with the Planning Director.
4. A CAO session with extreme emphasis on the interaction of the Executive and Administrative bodies & the long term costs or hiring & firing top administrative staff.
5. A Mayor/CEO review of the Mayor’s duties according to the municipal Act with hyper emphasis on the role of the chair and the role of the executive committee.
6. A communications Director session to overview & educate best avenues for public information and interaction.
7. Integrity Commission session to review council & public’s complaint protocol.
8. Annual council strategic plan session to update affirm administration/council direction.
9. Annual council and mayor self-evaluation exercise to gauge the board’s further development.
10. Annual review of Mayor/council procedural bylaw…

Brian Saunderson (Candidate for Deputy Mayor)
I think there is an important distinction to be made between voting in bloc for partisan reasons (bloc voting) versus reaching consensus in principle. Bloc voting is indicative of group think and agendas rather than a proper examination and principled analysis of what is best for the community on an issue by issue basis. There is no place for group think in municipal politics which does not have the political party dynamic.
In contrast a well functioning Council that engages in open and public discussion on issues can arrive at a consensus on an issue and vote accordingly. The key distinction to be made is that consensus reflects an agreement on the merits of an issue as opposed to a decision based solely on a group driven agenda.‎ One is indicative of a closed and unresponsive Council, the other is indicative of an open, transparent Council working in the best interests of the community.

Tim Fryer
My opinion on this is best capsulized by noting that my intention is to vote on each and every matter using a carefully thought out merit basis to guide me. I expect to receive information from a variety of sources on a timely and all inclusive basis and use it in making an informed decision. I plan to be transparent and exercise integrity and be respectful of everything about the process. By extension then my intention is to not be part of any kind of a bloc voting process and hope not even to give the appearance of it. I expect, as well, that this will be the intention of my fellow councilors that are chosen by the electorate on October 27, 2014. I believe strongly that this is what the electorate should be able to expect from us when they place the stewardship of the municipality into Councils’ hands on that day.

A consideration about our decision making process is that in many cases councilors rely heavily on the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor (as well as municipal staff) to directly provide guidance on many of the matters that are brought to the attention of council and that may require a democratic decision from us. That is especially the case for County of Simcoe matters since the Mayor and Deputy-Mayor are our 2 county council reps and they have this portfolio requirement that they must fulfill on behalf of Collingwood. By not only attending county council meetings but also participating in various key county committees they gather the pertinent information that is required for proper consideration by Collingwood Council. Also under the current design the Deputy-Mayor provides direct assistance to the Mayor and Council by assuming the role of Finance Chair and most specifically dealing very directly with the budget establishment process. I expect that these sources, when providing us with our required information, will exercise the same elements that I will be using when they complete their tasks because that will allow me to fulfill my duty the way I have planned.

Gail Michalenko
I certainly have heard a lot of feedback in the community with the term ‘bloc voting’. Based on Steve’s observation it would certainly appear to be the case. I would hope that in the future Councillors will be elected that will vote in the best interests of the residents of Collingwood rather than in the interest of a particular party at the cost of the majority of its residents. With 9 people at the Council table one would think that there would be a wide diversity of opinions on different topics and so it seems strange that the same people consistently vote the same way all the time. It definitely leads the public to belief that issues are decided prior the Council meetings. If elected I intend to research issues, rely upon the expertise of the highly qualified staff we have at Town Hall and vote independently based on the conclusions I feel works best for the interests of the community.

Keith Hull
Did not respond to this question. Which is most unfortunate because he was on the receiving end of many of the decisions that the “Bloc of 5” foisted upon us. As my Grandfather used to say “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.”

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