Municipal Election: Is it Fall yet?

Winnipeg Winter December 24, 2013

Human Rights Museum

In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities:

integrity, intelligence, and energy.

And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.
Warren Buffet

 In the fall of this year we will be having a municipal election in order to elect a new mayor as well as city council. At the minimum one could say it has not been an easy last few years for our mayor, the executive policy committee and counsellors. It seems there has been controversy after controversy and it is clear for many Winnipeggers we have lost faith in city council, which has resulted in many becoming increasingly apathetic or for some like me and others more vocal that enough is enough.

Many people may be thinking it is too early to start the conversations about the elections but if we are really interested in changing what is happening at city council we are going to need a complete retrofit.  In order to do this retrofit of mayor and council we are going to need to find those great people in our city who can bring about the changes to all aspects of our municipal government bringing Winnipeg back to life. Many of those individuals who can impact our city in a positive way may not be thinking about taking that step forward. In essence from the outside looking in to truly bring about the change required to create an effective municipal government will require a united effort by those elected to not only recognize our municipal government is broken but put a plan in effect that will bring the community’s voice into our local government. A daunting task to say the least. I have said it in a previous blog that Winnipeg’s most valuable asset is the people. We need to value what they have to offer and say about what their communities and what our city needs to be. It will require a mayor that can create a vision and belief in our city that people matter. All people.

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in our Mayor?

1)      A Vision for the future. The mayor should be able to look at where the city is now and where it needs to be in two years, five years and even twenty-five years. It is looking at the city from above and identifying what pieces of the puzzle are missing and put a plan of action together that allows us to build that puzzle. We don’t try to put puzzle pieces in places they don’t fit.

2)      A great communicator. It is one thing to have a vision but can our mayor articulate that vision and convince others to join in making that vision a reality. The vision needs to become a shared vision. In order for this to happen it means meeting and talking with community groups, business leaders and developers as well as those everyday people who pay taxes to keep our city running.

3)      Be an inspiration to others. In the end it will not be the mayor who does great things but create an atmosphere where the people of Winnipeg are able to make each community a great place to live. The mayor then is the leader and facilitator to put the vision into action.

4)      Is surrounded by good people.  Decisions need to be made by people who can make the vision and plans happen. We must take the politics out of action. It can be easy for a mayor or political leader to fall to some political and media pressure. The mayor must have the people who keep the vision moving ahead and not side-tracked because of an issue of the day. Do the civil servants and leaders in the city’s largest departments have the ability to advise the mayor and do their voices count?

5)      The mayor must be a person of action. Change is difficult. If what we are doing isn’t working we need to do something different. It must be done strategically and with an eye on the long-term vision. We don’t do something just to do something. It must fit into where we see our city going or in the long run it will cause more problems than the one it was supposed to solve.

6)      The mayor must have Integrity. Michael Josephson in his article HIRE FOR CHARACTER, TRAIN FOR SKILLS: Character is an Essential Competence he states, “If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for? Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness?”

Each of us can make our own decisions as they read this article as to whether our current mayor meets the criteria above. If you are reading this blog and are not from Winnipeg you as well can look at the six criteria above and determine if your mayor meets these standards. It doesn’t matter what the situation or where we are from, we need to demand good government. We need to have high expectations. It is my hope that we can entice some of those people from our city to stand-up and decide to work with the people of Winnipeg to create strong and vibrant communities where it is the people who matter most.

About jameswhoddinott

My novel 'When Eagles Dare to Fly' represents my belief that good will always triumph over evil and by developing who we are on the inside we will find our way. My newest novel 'The Fates' was released earlier this year that examines a society that discovers immortality. I have a blog called an 'Author, blogger and his musings' which talks about my writing, political issues as well as other areas of interest like education, art and photography,
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2 Responses to Municipal Election: Is it Fall yet?

  1. Sid says:

    Some would say Sam has laid out his vision and “inspired’ the administration to act on it. Remember, most talking heads, blogonauts, newspaper comment sections always clamor for a business minded leader. Well, in the real world, “business minded” people look for results and discount process as an impediment to getting things done. Deals behind closed doors are the norm. Rigging the process to benefit your agenda is the norm ( as long as its above the law, meaning you can’t sue or charge them with a crime ).

    One must consider whether government should behave like a business when the reality is government cannot behave like a business. Its sole source of funding is gouging the tax base. Should it fail, there is no accountability. People are not shown the door when they make colossal mistakes. People who are heads of departments have ZERO business experience since their careers have been mostly in the public service. And i mean, they have ZERO, nada, zilch, experience. They have never taken risks. They have never operated without a parachute. They never developed anything be it service or product. How can these people be business oriented.

    So, how can you run a business with so many incompetent and inexperienced senior managers. You can’t. You lose money. If it were a real business, they’d have to shut the doors.

    Is the City a business – not in my books. We need a Mayor who can clearly articulate what the main City Services are . How much money is needed to support and deliver them. Make the necessary cuts and adjustments to satisfy those services and let everyone else fend for themselves. I see the City more as a machine. It has certain things it must do properly.

    But realistically, when you have Councillor Smith showing the most Integrity from day one, you have a major problem with the mayoral wannabees, Steeves, Havixbeck , Swandel, Wyatt and Fielding. All others are late to the party. An election year- or 8 months to go – is not the year you want to start laying out ideas or platforms. It will be the same sound bites over and over again.

    But I get it. This will be the year where the word integrity is what its all going to be about. Oh well.

    One more thing, HALF the people don’t vote. They just don’t care. The other half don’t read platforms. They vote for their team , regardless of anything you put in front of them.


    • Thank-you for commenting on my post. Government cannot run like a business. It needs to recognize that people matter. A business is primarily about making money whereas running a city, the province or country needs to be about creating a place that people can thrive. This means strong communities, education, opportunities to work and make a difference in our world. It is as you and I both say about leaders with integrity and a clear understanding about what Civil Service means.


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