The Way I See it: Time to exercise your civic duty

Michele Blais urges North Okanagan citizens to get out and vote on Nov. 19

A leader is a dealer in hope,” so said Napoleon Bonaparte. On Nov. 19 we get to choose our dream team that will lead our community for the next three years and be our leaders in hope.

We have some excellent candidates running in all local communities for mayor, and for council members. Signs or comments are asking for change, new leadership, common sense.

If we do a review there are events over the past few years that have been very positive and others that you may wonder about. An area I would like to see improved is the ability for our local councils to get along and work together. Some say they do work well, however I believe the public perception is that they don’t. There are unique qualities of each community which are worth protecting and there is so much more that we share together and it is in this space where we need more cooperation.

Leadership is a very important skill set and I would suggest that all of the people who hold political office are our leaders. The mayors are at the next step, however as any successful leader knows there are times when leaders need to step aside and let others lead with their expertise, not always being in the front spot. A worker described his best boss as knowing how to tell people what to do, but not how to do it. He was smart enough to know that he wasn’t smarter than everybody and that he needed to encourage innovation and creativity and let the workers do what they were hired to do.

Leading a community is about trust. We are trusting those elected to make good decisions to have done their homework, to have vision, to vote for the greater good not just special interest groups. Great literacy skills would be important as they are given an abundance of information!

Common sense is described in Wikipedia as the basic level of practical knowledge and judgement that we all need to help us live in a reasonable and safe way. As an employer I found that some people were blessed with an abundance of being able to see the task at hand, look beyond and move it forward in a way that worked without creating havoc. Others seem to wallow in staying in the problem and not being able to connect the dots of how this decision affects this and this and this. It’s about problem solving, it’s about seeing the connection. It often is about working together.

So my dream team will have people who do their homework, and are always learning and thinking, and consulting with their citizen groups, and then able to make informed decisions. They will lead by example. They also are those who are humble and will acknowledge it takes a strong team to keep the  village going.

I want character — those who are honest, truthful and dependable, who can stand by their principles and whose word we can trust.

I really see vision as important, those who can work a vision into a reality, who truly believe in the great potential of our communities and can move us forward. Not in a  “beauty pageant” statement way but thoughtful, practical progress that sees us being progressive and innovative and at the same time fiscally responsible.

These are communities made up of citizens of all walks of life: rich, poor, varying levels of educations, jobs, trades, community interests, from arts and sports, to music and clubs. All of us are important in keeping our community rich in diversity.

Being mayor and councillor are tough jobs, everyone who pays taxes feels they are your boss and want to tell you how to do your job, want you to vote the way they see is right, which might be best for the whole community. We are electing them to represent us, so like the politicians whom we expect to do their homework, let us as voters do the same. Vote for those who you feel will commit to the work and do this difficult job. It certainly isn’t for pay because if you factored in the wage for hours worked it would be pitiful.

To all the candidates, thank you for putting your name forward, and being willing to represent your community. Vote, folks, it is your voice, your civic duty. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain and who would want to give up that right?

Michele Blais writes every other Sunday on a variety of issues.