Local council should be an open door to everyone who wants to lead

Sharing my thoughts on the Peterborough Examiner Story: 

 Clarke gives up his 2021 pay hike and urges fellow councillors to do the same

Leadership comes in many forms, and irrespective of the motivation, taking the plunge to run for office is a big commitment.

Kim at the podium taking her council oath of office.
At the podium in 2018 taking the council oath of office.

Municipal council is the most accessible level of government, often allowing councillors, like former minister and Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, the opportunity to take local governance experience to upper levels of government to the benefit of everyone in our community.

Local council should be an open door to everyone who wants to lead and have a voice at the table, and we don’t want to close doors because the costs of participating in local governance, and in executing the duties of a councillor/Mayor, are not appropriately compensated for.

I have a pension, I come from a position of privilege, and I acknowledge that privilege. I can afford to make this type of gesture. Many future candidates for office won’t have the same luxury, and that is wrong.

We, the Mayor and Councillors of the day, should be proactive in trying to make this position more accessible, more attainable, and sustainable. We should pave the way, and improve all aspects of the job, so that each new council is better equipped to serve their community.

Kim with a young friend at the swearing in ceremony, December 2018.
Local council should be an open door to everyone who wants to lead and have a voice at the table. It is our duty to improve the office for future generations.

I understand that the subject of compensation is delicate.

That is why we have a process in place to examine councillor compensation, so that the discussion is at arm’s length. Having an independent citizen’s committee review compensation at the halfway point of a term is a good model that ensures that any changes cannot be of benefit to the sitting council, but also that compensation cannot, because it should not, be used as a political tactic, or part of the solution every time there is an emergency, be it flood, tornado, pandemic or otherwise, by those who are fortunate enough to see this position as a public service, and a benevolent donation of their time and effort.

A viable alternative, that sustains compensation for holding office,  is to donate after-tax dollars to the city, and that includes payroll deduction. In this manner, when council remuneration is published annually, charitable giving is kept anonymous so that donations remain a personal, private choice as opposed to putting pressure on colleagues to do the same.

Unfortunately, past discussions of council compensation have tended to be a distraction from much more important issues of governance; another reason that the arms length discourse on appropriate remuneration is given to an advisory committee.

This is not a time to be distracted, it is a time to come together in community and continue to focus on our plans for recovery and renewal.

Thanks for listening,

Kim

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