Neil Powell Voices reflections on running for City Council in New Westminster

Voice New Westminster President Neil Powell (photo submitted)

Voice New Westminster President Neil Powell (photo submitted)

This is a guest post by Neil Powell, written in response to a call I put out to several politically active members in the community to share advice about running for New Westminster City Council. Neil is the current president and founding member of Voice New Westminster, which I would describe as an electors’ group that acts as the “unofficial opposition” to the District & Labour Council candidates (and aspires to turn the tables on the DLC of course!). Neil is also an active member of the McBride Sapperton  Residents’ Association. His is the first in a series of posts leading up to the next municipal election in November 2011. Those of you who are considering throwing your names in the ring may gain some insight from Neil’s experience. Watch for a follow-up post with information on the mechanics of how to run for city council, among other things. – Briana.

Making the decision to run for municipal office, be it council, school board or mayor, is not an easy decision to make.

Running a campaign, and being elected to municipal office, certainly cannot be considered a wise financial decision. It costs a fair amount of money and lots of time to run a campaign and the amount of time that those elected give to the community would certainly not equate to a very high hourly wage.

Our elected municipal officials give many hours of their time to do a job that is often not recognized or valued by the public. This is time that is taken away from family relationships. It is often also challenging for a person to juggle a career and their involvement in municipal politics. One has to balance a career and elected office as you can’t survive in this city on a councillor or school trustee’s financial remuneration. These were some of the things I, along with my family, had to consider before we made the decision that I would run for council in 2008.

Before we as a family made the decision that I would run in 2008 I also had a few good long conversations with a few elected friends, both in New Westminster and elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, who have spent some time in municipal politics. I asked them about the number of hours required per week for community meetings and how long a councillor would expect to spend at City hall on Mondays. I also asked if they thought it would be possible to balance council and family responsibilities. One of the big challenges to doing so is reading through the many reports that council are presented with prior to meetings. In order for council members to be able to make informed and wise decisions they need to familiarize themselves with a large amount of background reading material and staff reports.

The ability to make sense of such a large amount of often complex material is one of the qualities I believe one needs in order to be a good councillor. I also believe it is important to know the history of issues and to be familiar with the many issues within our city and the myriad of regional pressures we face.

In the past running a campaign in New Westminster was a little different than many other Lower Mainland municipalities in that New Westminster did not have municipal elector’s groups or slates. That is, there were no officially recognized or blatant elector’s groups. When Voice New Westminster formed the organization identified and exposed the DLC wizard behind the curtain of politics in New Westminster. Anyone who was the slightest bit politically astute had already noticed though that there was an unofficial District Labour Council (DLC) slate. The DLC funded the campaigns, often the lion’s share, of most of our successfully elected councillors and school trustees. That is not to mention the behind the scenes support they give in operating phone banks, etc.

Since its inception Voice New Westminster has valued transparency and we believe that begins with disclosing the true nature of your campaign and the agenda of your financial backers. When one looks at the diversity of Voice campaign contributions it is clear to see that our support has been wide and varied and that we have the interests of all of our community in mind.

Voice New Westminster gave the electorate another viable option. Certain councillors and trustees who had been working hard in this political climate saw the value of working as a group with other community minded individuals and chose to run as part of the Voice New Westminster team. The Voice council and trustee team recognized the importance of organizing resources so that candidates weren’t working independently to cover all of the election tasks on their own. Being able to support one another along the campaign trail is yet another advantage of being part of a slate. As the 2008 municipal election results clearly show, to be successful in New Westminster municipal politics today, one has to be part of a slate.

Voice candidates are not ideologically bound to certain ideas. We want what is best for our city and neghbourhoods and what will make us a truly “livable” city. The DLC demand things like “no contracting out” and looks out for the interests of the city and school district’s employee groups whereas Voice looks for and supports candidates that can look out for the community’s interests, including those who work for the city and school district.

Voice doesn’t direct the voting of its elected members, we entrust them to approach all questions with an open and unencumbered mind and commit to transparent, accountable public processes. Voice does not expect that everyone will always agree on issues, but we do expect that a positive way forward will be found and a consensus achieved that is broadly supported by the New Westminster public.

After spending so much personal time and finances on running a campaign what is truly discouraging is voter apathy. It is alarming, and even surprising, that given the fact that for most people their most regular interaction with government is municipal government that only 25% of eligible voters did  actually take the little amount of personal time required to vote. Perhaps apathy has been created by the traditional lack of forthrightness among candidates in the city who claim to be “independent” and the long list of candidates the voters have had to whittle through.

It is my hope that given Voice New Westminster’s open and new way of doing municipal politics in New Westminster that more people will take an interest in being part of our upcoming election and get involved in a candidate’s campaign. Most of all though I really hope that people use our democracy and VOTE.

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67 thoughts on “Neil Powell Voices reflections on running for City Council in New Westminster”

  1. Well worded and written Neil. All the best for your continued and future involvements. The most important part of getting elected to local politics is name recognition by the public (unfortunate but tested true.)

  2. "Running a campaign, and >>being<< elected to municipal office, certainly cannot be considered a wise financial decision" – Particularly when you loose and don't get remuneration through your expense opportunities right ?
    http://www.royalcityrecord.com/business/much+your

    "The ability to make sense of such a large amount of often complex material is one of the qualities I believe one needs in order to be a good councillor"

    Thank goodness society yields precocious individuals like yourself pontificating the intellectual and financial demands required to become a publicly elected councilor in order to keep the median citizen with their sub standard education from taking on such an exhausting position !

    I have no doubt once again Voice will run a slate, only to have those elected individuals publicly deep six their association with Voice soon after getting into office. http://www.royalcityrecord.com/news/City+councill

    Personally I will not vote for any individual based on this metamorphic association expressing elitist notions of who should hold political office.

    1. Will you run for council or mayor Rick, I like your attitude! Wow had no idea the Mayor made so much money and can't acknowledge who pays for it. I quote from the record article "We are spending money to do the job, Wright said. If you are spending money to do the job, "somebody" has to pay for it. I don't see this as being exorbitant." In response to wages and expenses of $97,595 it cost "taxpayers" (somebody) in 2009.

    2. Neil's just telling it like it is, Rick. It is a significant financial sacrifice to run for office, and it doesn't end upon election. I think there's an assumption that a seat on council is a cushy spot on the taxpayer's gravy train. When you actually look at what they're paid and the amount of responsibility they shoulder, it doesn't seem so cushy to me.

      The mayor is paid significantly more, but it's still not much compared to what an experienced person can earn in the private sector. It's unrealistic to expect that a city like New West would pay what an business executive might make, but I do think taxpayers need to be aware that you get what you pay for. Lower the salary of our mayor and council too far and it will discourage qualified candidates from stepping forward.

      1. Really Briana, you get what you pay for is an old argument but when it comes to looking at the last 9 years we could not agree more.
        There were days when it was a privilege and an honor to serve and there was no pay associated with it. Now people make it a career, they never leave or retire but get taken out of office by the very same electorate that voted for them. Some of these same people have trouble understanding the very essence of good governance. Once in the arrogance takes hold we all suffer. Again I ask Rick will you run in the next election!!!

        1. I am not quite sure what your point is, Rick For Mayor.

          Are you decrying the practice of paying a salary to those elected to civil government?

          Usually, when you use the cliche, "You get what you pay for", it implies that when you pay nothing, you get nothing (of value).

          But clearly, over the last nine years (and much longer, but 9 years is the timespan you used) we have paid the mayor and city council, so we must be getting something worthwhile, as a decent salary has been paid?

          A salary is associated with political office to ensure that those from the lower and middle class can afford to run for election.

          And people make it a career (never leaving or retiring), but are subject to getting voted out? I believe most councilors have a day-job to make ends meet. Again, you make it sound like they get elected for life, lose any sense of humility they have, until they get voted out . Which means it isn't for life. Which, when I read your comment, confuses me.

      2. http://www.royalcityrecord.com/news/spenders+shap

        [Neil Powell (Voice New Westminster) - $2,397]
        [McIntosh - $6,404]
        [Laird - $2,944]
        [Jaimie McEvoy spent a record $15, 232] -he really needed it bad !

        "Lower the salary of our mayor and council too far and it will discourage qualified candidates from stepping forward." – As I've expressed before the elitist notions that one need certain "qualifications" other then those required by statute in order to hold public office is an affront to the freedom that so many have fought and died for. I would rather see a council full of commoners from our multicultural city of fair intelligence, then one filled with businessman, accountants and the academics to lead us !

        1. Yes Rick your right! Looks like you got 4 on council and one as mayor. Good work, but we need your style to update our city. Would you donate your salary and work for honor and the glory of the public service?

        2. I agree with David G. above. Paying a decent wage to our politicians isn't an elitist notion. If anything, requiring that the work be unpaid means that only the very rich can afford to participate. As David says, all the councillors have day jobs to make ends meet (or have a pension from the job they used to hold).

          By qualified, I don't mean that they have to be a businessman, lawyer or a doctor or have a certain amount of money. Another way to express what I mean is to say that lowering council pay would hold back good people from putting their names forward. City councillors have to pay their mortgages and put food on the table just like the rest of us.

          I actually think we agree on more than you think, Rick. I certainly don't think one needs to be a "businessman, accountant or academic" to be a great leader.

          1. If you want my opinion on remuneration, all publicly elected officials should receive the minimum wage of the province, regardless of position or credentials. I would also like to see the reduced "training wage" paid for the first 3 months of office before being upped to the regular minimum wage. I never said the position should be without pay, the government believes minimum wage is sufficient, then our elected officials should lead by example.

          2. That's a great way to NOT attract the best and the brightest.

            Instead, our local council will be dominated by the wealthy and those who would otherwise be making sandwiches at Subway.

            Thanks, but I'd rather pay $50 more per year in property taxes to fund a properly paid mayor and council.

          3. "That's a great way to NOT attract the best and the brightest. " – Yes Mein Fuhrer ! Mankind naturally tendency is to be herded by the Shepard who know best how to care for his flock, from a position of moral and intellectual superiority !

            "Instead, our local council will be dominated by the wealthy and those who would otherwise be making sandwiches at Subway. " – I can see that exclusion is at the heart of your definition of democracy. Do you not understanding that the elected council is supposed to represent the interests of the community ?

          4. Honestly, your comments are somewhat bizarre and off-putting.

            Paying a minimum wage for a position that requires a high degree of skill is exclusionary. Please enlighten me how offering a wage that allows everyone to run for office is exclusionary.

            Do you know Godwin's Law? "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1".

            Mike Godwin, who formulated the law, said that he wanted people who "glibly compared someone else to Hitler or to Nazis to think a bit harder about the Holocaust."

            That's the problem with anonymous trolls – you can say just about anything with no ramifications. Did you ever take Pat up on his offer for a coffee?

          5. "a position that requires a high degree of skill" – I have already detailed the exact qualification needed to run for council as presented on the Cities website.

            Bupkis on the high, degree, or skill you mention is in the City's list of prerequisites I'm afraid…. not even your grade 10….

          6. Rick,
            You are scaring me with your comments.
            I wish I had met you a few months ago knowing that you will work for minimum wage.
            Most businesses pay staff what they are worth, a wage sufficient to retain them and what you, the customer/taxpayers are prepared to pay.
            Our "elitist" city staff are paid 3-4 time what our Mayor and council are paid. Many are unaccountable.
            Maybe we should pay councillors 6 figure salaries like staff and union leaders, after all they(staff and unions) are running our City, not councillors.
            My god! Now I am scaring myself !!

          7. "Maybe we should pay councillors 6 figure salaries like staff and union leaders, after all they(staff and unions) are running our City, not councillors. " – Thats correct John ! The city is run by staff, NOT councilors. Councilors listen to public input on matters and then VOTE as representatives of the people on things legislated as requiring council approval ! I'm glad your interested in how our City functions !

            I'm quite sure that if the remuneration of a councilor or mayor was minimum wage you would have no shortage of people running for the positions ! And think of the money we would save not having to pay 6 figures ! Thanks John !

      1. When speaking because you have someting to say overcomes loving the sound of your own voice, the forums will know peace.

  3. Neil,
    Thanks for your insights and continued efforts to make our city a better place for all to live. I certainly agree with an open and transparent agenda and your assessment on New West is pretty spot on! It is a huge commitment of time and money to get there and don't think of it in the relm of elitism as Rick would have us believe.

    Just wondering on what solutions Rick has at improving the city? He seems long on opinion and short on solutions!

  4. Neil (probably on purpose, being a much nicer guy than I am) didn’t raise one other negative of taking the plunge into public life. Once there, random and usually anonymous people in all forums take it upon themselves to paint you with their own brush. A good example of this is being called “elitist” if you suggest that being able to read and absorb a lot of documents in a short period of time might be a useful skill for a councilor.

    The worst part is that the candidate (or elected official) has to decide whether to ignore the most cowardly and uninformed anonymous critics, and risk a mischaracterization becoming a bigger story than it is, or to correct the critic, which only serves to call attention to (and may actually elevate) the troll.

    1. A good point to bring up. It's a job that you are criticized when things go right (they could have gone right-er), and voted out of office when they go wrong. Your hours are long, the pay per hour isn't great, you give up time with your family and time to devote on your health.

      And you have to respond as gracefully as possible to argumentative jerks who can't offer an alternative solution.

        1. It's a struggle to maintain my cool. I don't like being called a Nazi for suggesting that politicians should be paid for their expertise. If it were done face-to-face, I would have responded differently. But people don't say that frequently, face-to-face.

          For some reason, anonymity is the bridge to the land of rudeness for many individuals.

          1. David, you are a better man than me. But I will take your example and stop rising to his increasingly-erratic claims. No more responses to Rick, call it a belated New Years Resolution. I would still buy him a coffee or beer if he showed his face. That offer is still open, and unclaimed.

    2. "The worst part is that the candidate (or elected official) has to decide whether to ignore the most cowardly and uninformed anonymous critics"

      Pat, have you ever voted ? Perhaps you didn't take note of the booth provided to give privacy ? You fit well into the group of Academics who I'm sure would like to know every last detail of the voting electorate in order to better service the majority right ? Those who descent the majority for >>whatever<< reason can be better facilitated or provided for outside the City perhaps in camps where their needs will be attended to with much concentration right ? I see where your going with this von Pat.

      "A good example of this is being called “elitist” if you suggest that being able to read and absorb a lot of documents in a short period of time might be a useful skill for a councilor. "

      Pat, the minimum requirements are clearly stated in both Federal and Provincial Law, I'm sure both you and Neil are very disappointed that the skill of reading is not mandated by statute. Here is whats listed on our Cities website :

      {In order to run as a candidate, you must:

      * be 18 or older on general election day
      * be a Canadian citizen; and
      * be a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months before the election.

      In addition, you must not have been otherwise disqualified, for example, by failing to file a campaign financing disclosure statement after the last election. Candidates in a civic election are not required to be residents of the community in which they are seeking public office. City and School Board employees are required to take a leave of absence before being nominated for a position on City Council or the Board of Education respectively. Metro Vancouver employees must also take a leave of absence before being nominated as a candidate for a City Council position. >>> There is no fee or deposit payable to apply as a candidate<<<.}

      1. This conversation reminds me of the Movie “Joe vs. the Volcano”, where Tom Hanks’ “Joe” works in a dead end job in a soul-crushing office, and the background sound is his boss (played by a pitch-perfect Dan Hedaya) on the phone repeatedly asking: “"I know he can get the job. But can he do the job, Harry? Yeah, Harry. Can he do the job? I know he can get the job Harry, I know that, but…” ad nauseum

        Rick, you seem to be (purposely?) conflating the issue, and very effectively proving my point by attaching ideas to me that I have to waste time refuting. The secret ballot is important, and I support it. I also strongly support free speech. However, anonymous libel is neither of these. It is cowardly and represents lowest form of public discourse. It serves only to discourage people from getting involved in the process.

        1. "I also strongly support free speech. However, anonymous libel is neither of these. It is cowardly and represents lowest form of public discourse"

          Did you know there use to be a time when you could write an anonymous letter to the papers, and if they felt it was worthy they would print it ? What happened to that anonymous freedom of the press ? The papers won't publish anything these days unless they have verified names and addresses. Why do you encourage the erosion of our freedom to be heard without fear of reprisal through this new media ? If anything our freedom to make anonymous public comment is the highest testament of a society. Try playing blogger in Iran !

          Pat if you or anyone you know is a victim of libel you have recourse through the Justice system.

          1. Right – because everyone can afford the expense and time that a trial for libel costs. Especially elected officials making minimum wage.

  5. I don't pay enough attention to city politics; I've written to councilors on subjects like the new garbage cans, but I've never attended a council meeting, and I don't read all the articles in The Record.

    I don't like slates. It was a surprise to me when Neil said that New West is run under an unofficial "District Labour Council" slate; maybe it wouldn't have been if I had been more diligent.

    It's because municipal politics runs so far under the radar for many that I think a slate is bad. We already have a very (very) partisan political system at the other two levels of government (provincial, federal). Having one at the municipal level, where fewer people pay attention, strikes me as dangerous. I'd much rather have councilors and the mayor voicing their own opinions, not the opinion of the slate (Voice, COPE, or otherwise).

    1. Slates are a good thing! Currently, independents voicing their opinions are voted down. We are now in a situation where the DLC controls candidates through huge financial contributions and phone support (from other jurisdictions) at election time. Unfortunately we now have a DLC majority city council, (even out voting the Mayor) .

      We need a Better Balance so ALL taxpayers are represented. If it takes another "Slate" to accomplish this goal, so be it. Voice needs support to get the message out but most of all they need concerned citizens to get out and vote for a more democratic New Westminster.

      1. Slates simplify the message – by being attached to a slate, you all get painted by the same brush. Which is good. But I dislike block-voting in municipal politics.

        The last thing we need is another semi-partisan government. Councilors should vote their conscience, not the party line.

        1. David, we are agreed. We don't need a partisan municipal government. That was the point I was trying to make when I stated that Voice councilors are not bound by one ideology. There is no Voice whip.

        2. David, this is why we need change. The DLC is dictating to their "Block" I site the Fair living Wage as an example. This was introduced by labour under the guise that it will benefit the poor. It can only support the unions anti-contracting out assuring un-negotiated higher union wages. Do you know who does not benmefit by this?…….. Businesses being dictated to against free enterprise (in conflict with the Mayors Economic Developement plan) and again, the sinking taxpayer.
          Mayor Watts in Surrey recently stated emphatically That Municipal Government has no mandate to DICTATE to businesses. They like businesses because they pay 3.6 times the Taxes garnered form resiential developement.

  6. David I see you endorsed the proposed 191 unit uptown residential development, for clarification can you tell me if you had a motion from the Queens Park residiential association to do this. Do you think there will be enough parking for the medical building with the current proposal?

  7. "personal qualities needed to do a good job" – The only quality a person need exhibit is a passion for the well being of the greater community.

    1. Judging by what I see on the TV and hear on the radio, lots of people are passionate about the wellbeing of the Canucks, yet I'd argue most of them would do a terrible job as coach.

      Passion is necessary, but is in no way sufficient.

  8. Neil makes the case, Pat hits the nail on the head, and the troll, Rick, proves the point: there is no good reason for good and intelligent people to try to get elected these days. Not when you have to give up time with your family and go out of pocket so much and expose yourself to the mindless blather of those sitting in the cheep seats. So what does that leave us with? What happens when good [people] do nothing? There used to be a time not so long ago when politicians, lawyers, journalists, and teachers were widely respected and admired. Why? Because they made it their vocation serving the public and common good. Their sacrifice and commitment were acknowledged by our show or respect. Of course there are bad apples, but the system that the good apples uphold and build while the few bad ones try to exploit it deals with the rot. Our public institutions in Canada are some of the best in the world thanks to the good people who have built them – people like Neil who want to make a positive difference in their communities. It is easy to fixate on the negative. Now it is fashionable and technologically possible for every unhappy-in-their-life ‘troll’ to compulsively Tweet or blurt or blog points made to underline the corrosive view that “all politicians are corrupt”. But all that is, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I admire Neil, and folks like him, who weigh the good and the bad and at the end of the day are still willing to put their good name on the ballot. Where would we be without them?

    1. Stuart,

      Thanks for attaching a label to me, as the saying goes, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I am physically uninjured by your statement, and unless self-inflicted, I'm sure Neil is to.

      I made a point about elitism, which Wiki defines as :

      Elitism is the >>>belief<<< or attitude that some individuals, who supposedly form an elite — a select group of people with >>intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience<<, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or >>whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern<<

      I'm sure if you re-read Neil's articles, you'll find where he asserts himself to these qualifications of the term.

      I also indicated that a position of a councilor or any publicly elected person should be the minimum wage. The position should not be unpaid for service they provide. As David pointed out the citizen at Subways Sandwich shop who serves the public food which we consume to sustain ourselves receives minimum wage. You will find most business rely on the minimum wage for employees who serve the public, government who regulate this wage should also demonstrate this rate to those elected to serve the public. Simple.

      Now, David and Pat helped bring me to my third point about democracy. In a democracy we are all equals. You can't say the employee at Subway sandwich shop is not qualified to be a councilor. Thats just wrong, and does nothing but erode democracy into authoritarian regime. How wrong it is depends on the reasons our qualities you ascribe that person considered unqualified. We all have equal access to power, be it through the justice system or running for political office. You might not want to vote for the citizen who works at subway at the election booth, thats your free vote, to vote your conscience.
      But NO ONE has the right to say that a certain person does not have equal access to politcal office.

      As for me 'bringing it' to the table for Neil and others, you might also want to consider that this entire forum is in itself elite. We are a privileged educated class of people who have access to more resources then the general public. I found the article put forth a proposition that offended my elementary knowledge of our system of government, furthermore, Neil neglected to put his figures at the cost of running, or the estimated hours consumed every week in the grueling task.

      What do you call a claim of transparency without due disclosure ?

  9. Stuart, I applaud your commentary. Thank you for it.

    Rick, being able to read and evaluate municipal reports is undoubtedly a good skill for a council member. It is not, however, a prerequisite for getting your name on the ballot. To suggest that Neil, or any other person here, had argued that a council member should only be chosen from an elite would do violence to the definition you have copy/pasted above.

    Your comments on the rate-of-pay for council are valid from a freedom of speech point of view but I am ashamed to say that you make me too tired to argue. Rather I will just throw my hands in the air and despair for humanity. Thanks for that.

    1. "To suggest that Neil, or any other person here, had argued that a council member should only be chosen from an elite would do violence to the definition you have copy/pasted above. " – You are free to make your own interpretation of the articles contents and comments, as is anybody. I don't recall ever taking away anyones right to their individual interpretation of the statements.

      "Rather I will just throw my hands in the air and despair for humanity. Thanks for that." -The fact I truly despair Will, is the fact that the public is easily convinced that one need credentials and money to participate in politics. Perhaps soon they will be awakened to the realization that its this elite group perpetuating this deception upon the people to keep the power from the majority.

      1. Rick, I don't know how much more "regular people" our particular city council can get. None are rich. None are ivory tower types. All of them have other jobs or are on a pension etc.

        1. The point was also made that our city is a multicultural city, and those communities are not visibly represented on council. Rather then educating these citizens to their legitimate right for equal representation, the communities are exploited on mass for votes. You only have to go a week back in the news with the NDP and Adrian Trix.

          As for our councilors financials, I have yet to see the disclosures, but they have been released in Coquitlam. http://www.bclocalnews.com/tri_city_maple_ridge/t

          I would prefer to see a city hall report based on fact rather then your personal assessment of any given councilors wealth, jobs/businesses and pensions benefits so that I can make my own judgments as to any perceived bias. This would also seem to fall under that "transparency" flag Neil planted, and it best serve him to disclose the hands that feed him, and how much.

    1. Thanks for providing the link to our municipal government who are legislated to ensure transparency to it's citizens !

      That wasn't so bad now was it professor ?

      1. It wasn't the campaign disclosures, I already referenced that in a previous message. It's the assets, liabilities and income, which is not on your graphic. From Neil's link to City hall, instead of clicking the Financial Disclosure, where it sounds like it should be, click directly above, on the Nomination papers. As you scroll down you get the 411 on the candidates holdings, livelyhood, etc….

        1. So what if some of the candidates own a house. Some don't. Some are retired, some are not. None of them are rich enough to buy a new car with out a loan, but who cares. Should they be disqualified to run if they pay a mortgage, have children, a savings account? I do not see what you are getting at Rick. If you don't like them, vote for someone else. There were lots of options, last election.

          You say that no judgments should be made about a candidate other than if they are eligible to run (i.e. that it is elitist to suggest that reading be a useful skill for a council member, as you scolded Neil). In the next breath you infer that the (boring and harmless) financial details of our elected officials somehow impugn them. You further infer that our council (who has supported all manner of groundbreaking, even pioneering multicultural efforts) is an example of racism and that it 'exploits' ethnic communities.

          In your reply to this comment, you will no doubt continue your epic struggle against linear thought and engaged citizenship and boldly contradict your own position yet again. You could be part of the solution here Rick by speaking reasonably even if you have contrarian opinions.

          1. "contradict your own position yet again. You could be part of the solution here Rick" – Thanks Will, perhaps you can quote me to identify my contradicted nature. Yes I did make the point that there are no skills mandated to becoming a councilor, I said judgments should not be made about a person running for office considering them unqualified to even try based on their income, colour of skin, place in society, as was inferred of a Subway Sandwich shop employee. You are totally free to not vote for that person, based on your own convictions of what you want to see, you have a free vote. I think I made that point as well. I firmly believe, as Neil also mentioned, that we need transparency, and I assisted by being part of the soloution, linking to facts about Voice, and campaign disclosures. I never disqualified any candidates right to run for office based on disclosures, well Except for Mr. Laird, who at the time of disclosure didn't even have a job working at Subway ! J/k

            "So what if some of the candidates own a house. Some don't. Some are retired, some are not. None of them are rich enough to buy a new car with out a loan, but who cares" – Exactly, So what if the candidates own a house. If you read the disclosure form you would know that a persons primary residence, and mortgage is not required disclosure. However any businesses, other properties, sources of income, debts are all listed. If you don't understanding why these things are made "transparent" to the voting public maybe you should ask Neil for an explanation as to why !

            Now when did I call our council racist ? I said we live in a Multicultural society, and it is not visibly reflected in our council. Why are these communities not running for council ? I would love to see a council with visibly equal representation of it's citizens. When was the last time a visible minority was elected to New West council ? Maybe the Electorate is racist ?

            "and that it 'exploits' ethnic communities" – I didn't say council -as a whole- exploits ethnic communities, but it is hard fact that candidates lobby to these communities in exchange for votes. These communities make up large portions of our towns electorate, and have equal opportunity to elected office for fair representation.

            I would also put it to you that several of our elected officials have plenty of riches to buy a car without a loan. But who wouldn't want to take advantage of a Zero down with .9% financing?

            "epic struggle against linear thought" – You must be talking about Matt, and his Bank of Imagination Land financed 2 billion dollar NFPR upgrade they're discussing. Sounds reasonable to me !

  10. David, thank you for your comments. Neil's post is just the beginning of what I hope will be a series of posts from various folks in the community sharing their perspectives on local political issues. The influence of unions in local politics is one of the topics I'd like to see explored in future posts. If you're interested in sharing your perspective on this in more detail, I'd be keen to run it. I'd also be interested in getting some posts from you and other members of the community about the issues they see as important. All I ask from political posts is to try to keep the focus on issues rather than tearing down specific people, and specifically to try to offer solutions (rather than just complain). Anyone who's interested can drop me a line via our contact form: http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/about/write-for-us

  11. Sorry, David. Slinging “negative” mud is tired and it doesn’t stick any longer. The fact remains that Voice financial support came from across our city-residents and businesses. In fact, at least one Voice council candidate was also a recipient of union support.

    I admit that the Voice website needs some serious updating. We’re working on it but we’re an all-volunteer group and most of our effort recently has gone into our blog. Check it out if you have a chance.
    If you’ve been reading our local papers over the last few months you will have seen some of the issues we believe are important. It is not our organization’s policy, but many of our members are appalled that, with very little discussion, New Westminster is rapidly being turned into a “bedroom community”. Our infrastructure is deteriorating, our debt mounting, and our taxes ballooning. These things concern our members and they should concern everyone who lives or works in this city.
    My comment regarding ideology speaks for itself and there is no evil-doublespeak. We don’t represent a “special interest” group. Our organization represents residents, businesses and taxpayers.
    Ah, but by election results I was not just considering success as being elected but also at coming close. I’ve heard, as you must have, that it often takes more than one election attempt. Not only that, but Voice had considerable success at the school board level and our trustees have been bringing in some positive change there. I think that you will agree that with the hard work of our elected trustees, the School Board is a much different place than it used to be. The deficit has been overcome, meetings are a lot more civil, conflict issues are starting to be addressed, the Board operates in a much more transparent manner, outrageous trustee expenses have been halted, and most importantly, the pathetic twelve year attempt to bring in a capital replacement project finally seems to be on the right track.
    One cannot dispute the impact the District Labour Council has on our community. How many of our neighbouring cities have that kind of special interest influence in their civic campaigns? How are those cities, with similar “business-minded politicians” doing financially? No one is against more jobs, unions or otherwise. I agree.
    Really, how much has our “our pro-business Mayor” been able to get done? Lots of residential development and not a whole lot of new diversified jobs, despite a new well-paid position that one would think would be taking care of that.

  12. Dave, frankly this is rich coming from you. You say the Mayor has done so much list the finished accomplishments and I will list double what has been left behind. Your wife ran under his coat tails in the last civic election. Voice elected three school board trustees and two councilors resignations aside. Are you too negative to give credit where credit is due. You clearly demonstrate why we have less than stellar candidates running in our city for elected office, they get a boot kicking if they do and its the reason I can't identify who I am because I have a permit before council and if they knew what I am saying here guess what would happen.
    You and others need to curtail the perpetual fear mongering, name calling and abuse of power in the city of New Westminster before you will get any qualified candidates to run. I am not a supporter of Voice but at least they can seek comfort in the knowledge they are trying to change the bully tactics employed by the likes of yourself our current mayor and the labour council. It a reason why many people stopped turning out to vote because why bother its the same old group time and time again.

  13. "The fact remains that Voice financial support came from across our city-residents and businesses"

    I love facts Neil !

    New WestminsterTotal contributions under $100VOICE New Westminster$4,050
    New WestminsterRoyal Towers Hotel Corp.VOICE New Westminster$2,500
    New WestminsterDouglas WhickerVOICE New Westminster$1,511
    New WestminsterJoan DenisVOICE New Westminster$1,272
    New WestminsterBlair ArmitageVOICE New Westminster$952
    New WestminsterJohn AshdownVOICE New Westminster$914
    New WestminsterKen McIntoshVOICE New Westminster$715
    New WestminsterSteve McClungVOICE New Westminster$644
    New WestminsterRobert DavisVOICE New Westminster$635
    New WestminsterSusan WandellVOICE New Westminster$627
    New WestminsterGavin PalmerVOICE New Westminster$622
    New WestminsterCasey CookVOICE New Westminster$620
    New WestminsterPaul FuocoVOICE New Westminster$600
    New WestminsterNeil PowellVOICE New Westminster$580
    New WestminsterDanaa HingsVOICE New Westminster$508
    New WestminsterTelus CorporationVOICE New Westminster$500
    New WestminsterPaul JohansenVOICE New Westminster$470
    New WestminsterBob OstermanVOICE New Westminster$465
    New WestminsterCatherine HudsonVOICE New Westminster$340
    New WestminsterPatrick O'ConnerVOICE New Westminster$290
    New WestminsterLisa GrahamVOICE New Westminster$270
    New WestminsterKaren Baker-McGrottyVOICE New Westminster$260
    New Westminster(Illegible) AiegoVOICE New Westminster$250
    New WestminsterShelley WallieVOICE New Westminster$250
    New WestminsterSharon KurtzVOICE New Westminster$230
    New WestminsterDaniel FontaineVOICE New Westminster$225
    New WestminsterDeane GurneyVOICE New Westminster$220
    New WestminsterJan FiakowskiVOICE New Westminster$201
    New WestminsterJohn HarbickVOICE New Westminster$175
    New WestminsterJames (Illegible)VOICE New Westminster$170
    New WestminsterArt StaffordVOICE New Westminster$150
    New WestminsterAnn MayoVOICE New Westminster$140
    New WestminsterLawrence ReasonVOICE New Westminster$140
    New WestminsterDebra SutherlandVOICE New Westminster$135
    New WestminsterKirpaul KaurVOICE New Westminster$130
    New WestminsterMike RedmondVOICE New Westminster$120
    New WestminsterKen ArmstrongVOICE New Westminster$120
    New WestminsterJanice CookVOICE New Westminster$120
    New WestminsterDon KlimchukVOICE New Westminster$120
    New WestminsterJames CalderVOICE New Westminster$120
    New WestminsterBetty McIntoshVOICE New Westminster$110
    New WestminsterLesley MalcolmVOICE New Westminster$110
    New WestminsterMargot BartonVOICE New Westminster$108
    New WestminsterMayler CrespoVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterJim GoringVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterJohn AvelineVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterJohn MorvatVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterBKL ConsultantsVOICE New Westminster$100
    New Westminster(Illegible) NewmanVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterRussell ReidVOICE New Westminster$100
    New WestminsterSandra RiceVOICE New Westminster$100

    "My comment regarding ideology speaks for itself and there is no evil-doublespeak"

    Based of this ideology of "transparency" I thought it fitting to display Voice NW campaign donations on your behalf as a unpaid volunteer. I hope the layout works. Betty is a stellar example of someone able to cut a good deal, after all it was the incumbents reputations that Voice was gaining attention by prominently featuring them centre square in their propaganda.

    This is public information located on the Vancouver Sun's Municipal election campaign finance database @ http://www.vancouversun.com/news/election-donatio

    Thanks for telling us "like it is" Neil.

  14. Rick how about fair play and showing the labour side of donations. Come on lets play nice and show your an equal opportunity mudslinger.

  15. Don't you worry about that !
    There is plenty more in store for the next victim in the series !

    If one is going to come to the table and engender sentiments of open and transparent government, you had best display them. There is nothing in his spiel regarding specifics of Voice's campaign financing other then "When one looks at the diversity of Voice campaign contributions it is clear to see that our support has been wide and varied"
    I merely assisted in the distribution of the donors list on behalf of Voice's proud unpaid volunteer network to assist in the discernment of fact !

  16. Rick for Mayor and "To Will:" we published an infographic showing campaign spending by all candidates and linked to the Vancouver Sun database mentioned above as well as the related coverage by Theresa McManus here: http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/2010/05/01/infogra

    I also want to clarify that while Will is a co-founder of the site, I am the day to day operator of it. I'm the one who moderates the comments.

    And speaking of moderation, "To Will," you posted another comment under a pseudonym which I chose to delete because it was off-topic for this discussion. I tried to contact you via the email you used, but found the email address is not valid. I don't like to delete comments, and luckily, I have to do so only rarely. It is a condition of this site, however, that you use a valid email address when you comment so that I can contact you if there are any problems with your comment (I like to explain why I am not approving it and give the person the opportunity to revise the comment if appropriate). I will not be approving any more comments from you that use this invalid email address.

    You may both be interested to note that I linked to the election financing information within Neil's post. It is interesting information for anyone who is interested in what financial influences may be at work in our local political scene.

  17. We have linked to it many times. I am not an automatic fan of organized labour. Also this is not my post nor to I moderate many of the comments. I often don’t even read them. You’re just lucky.

    Some folks have opinions that are based in real life and some don’t. I understand that. Welcome to the blog, anonymous commenter! Your credibility and character shine through.

  18. Thanks David. Sorry about the off-topic comment – I should not have approved it. I appreciate your reply, and would request that you and Peter P. take any further discussion offline.

  19. Well said "That's Rich"…. You have a clear understanding of why Voice exists. We must bring out those voters you speak of. A Mayor winning his position with under 6,000 votes is clearly not a majority.
    Thank you.

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