And here we go again!
Election 2014 has now officially begun.
I am ready to declare my intention to pay as little attention as humanly possible to the race to elect Toronto’s next mayor. Seriously. I couldn’t care less.
Of the many lessons we should’ve learned from the past 3 years, the most important really needs to be that our mayor is little more than a glorified councillor with an official chain of office. The position can be more than that, of course. It all depends on the strength of character and ability to get along with a majority of council colleagues that will make it so. Being mayor doesn’t automatically confer leadership. That needs to be earned.
A mayor can only do what a majority of councillors allow a mayor to do. If council permits a mayor to run roughshod, a mayor can run roughshod. The only mandate a mayor can claim upon assuming office is a head start to putting together a working coalition to help shape an agenda.
Our mayor is not a strong one. The position comes with no dictatorial powers or powers of veto. The mayor is one vote, albeit a high profile one, of 45.
That is a good thing.
City councillors are not elected to represent the interests of the mayor they serve with. City councillors are elected to represent the interests of the residents of their respective wards. It is the job of the mayor to convince at least 22 councillors that the interests of their residents represent the interests of the entire city.
Yes, this can lead to some aching parochialism. We certainly don’t have a perfect model of municipal governance. There are steps we could take to address such concerns. But investing more power in the office of the mayor is perhaps the worst solution to the problems we have.
Right now the best opportunity we have to try and ensure that local government functions to the best of its abilities, for the best of the city’s interests is to elect a stable of strong, civic-minded, forward-thinking city councillors. We need more city builders on council not fence fixers who are happy to leave the tougher, bigger decisions up to the mayor. More city councillors to demand the mayor work with them rather than city councillors readily handing over power and simply going to work for the mayor.
For us here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke, this election year will be all about the ward races. There will be more than enough news and information and coverage out there about what will certainly be a hotly contested mayoral campaign. That one, that’s the money shot.
But to our mind whatever happens at that level won’t be the difference maker, as long as we don’t let it be. Let’s all work our damndest to elect the best city councillors out there. 44 of them, all ready to step up and start working for their residents, for their wards, for their city. If whoever’s the mayor come October 28th once more makes the mistake of thinking that somehow their mandate supersedes that of the collective will of council, let’s make sure we have elected enough strong-willed and independent thinking councillors to nip that notion in the bud from the outset.
— hopefully submitted by Cityslikr