How should a City Councillor Represent the Ward?
The candidates for City Council do not run under the banner of any political party. Therefore, they are all “independent candidates”. In 2008 Federal Election I ran as an “Independent Candidate” in Toronto Danforth. During that campaign, I was asked:
What follows is the same answer that I gave (modified to suit the role of City Councillor).
How Would An Independent Represent His/Her Constituents?
“Once elected a City Councillor interacts with both City Council and with residents of the Ward. In City Council a Councillor will vote on issues and propose laws and solutions. The City Councillor is the “local link” between the resident, Toronto City Council and city services.
All Independents agree that the purpose of Independents is to be responsive to the residents of the Ward first. Ward 29 is made of large numbers of people with differing (often conflicting) interests. So, what is a Councillor to do, when differing parts of the Ward want different things. What is an Councillor to do, if to help one resident of the Ward would be to hurt another. What, in this context (conflicting interests), does it mean to be responsive to the residents of the Ward?
I suggest that “responsiveness to the Ward” means (at least) two things.
First – Sound and Independent Judgment – This means to use one’s best judgment on whatever the issues are. Nobody can know what issues may arise over a period of four years. Hence, the question is NOT how would a City Councillor vote on any specific issue. Rather the question is:
What are the fundamental values that would shape the judgment that a City Councillor would bring to a vote on any issue?
Examples might include general thoughts about:
– public health
– social services, etc
Second – Respect For All Residents of the Ward – Respect includes “listening”. A City Councillor must commit to “listening” to the concerns and priorities of all individuals and groups. That said, “listening” and “respect” is not the same thing as voting in a specific way or advocating any particular policy. It is the job of a City Councillor to hear a wide range of concerns and priorities and factor those in to decisions that the Councillor will make.
Respect means that – Everybody in Toronto Ward 29 is entitled to be heard!
In short a City Councillor must be:
Independent of political parties and independent of any special interest groups in Toronto Ward 29. A City Councillor is committed to respecting all points of view and then using his/her best judgment to vote for those policies that would best help the residents of Toronto Ward 29 as a whole!
As your City Councillor in Toronto Ward 29, I John Richardson, commit myself to this statement of principle!