City council candidates talk relationship building

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Council relationships have been in the spotlight since George Cuff released his municipal inspection report on St. Albert at the end of August.

In his report, Cuff referenced what he saw as a lack of collegiality, respect and co-operation between council members. He described two voting blocks on council and noted interpersonal conflicts sometimes got in the way of council business.

The Gazette asked candidates to share their views on what council members can do to ensure a positive working relationship with each other.

Aside from the candidates listed here, Barry Zukewich is also running for council but did not provide a response.

Q: How would you foster a good relationship with your fellow council members?

A: Cathy Heron, St. Albert Mayoral Candidate
Working with a team of strong personalities can be challenging at times, but it can be most rewarding as well. I have learned to work with strong personalities through my time as chair of the Community Services Advisory Board, as a director on the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and serving on several other high-functioning boards and committees. The biggest lesson I have learned is that all of these people, regardless of their political views, need to feel respected and valued for their contributions.
I understand the mayor is one vote of seven on council. There is no “I” in “mayor.”
As long as we remain focused on our shared love of the city, we can avoid personal attacks. Any conflict needs to be resolved early before it is drawn into the public forum and erodes public trust. I will draw out the wisdom of my colleagues to make our council and city thrive.

A: Cam MacKay, St. Albert Mayoral Candidate
Good relationships are built on trust and integrity. When there are items such as double billing, pecuniary interest violations, members of council using their positions to obtain employment for themselves at the city and frivolous lawsuits that are pursued against residents, it is challenging to have good relations because people of integrity will not tolerate corruption. As mayor, I will set the tone from the top to instill a culture of integrity amongst council and accountability to the public. I will not ask people to trust me or trust council; rather, we will earn their trust by ensuring that the tools put in place, such as the internal auditor and the integrity commissioner, will serve as checks and balances to ensure fairness, accountability and integrity. Once there is trust and a culture of accountability, the public can be well-served.

A: Malcolm Parker, St. Albert Mayoral Candidate
My goal is to lead a unified team that understands its governance role. I will use my leadership skills so we have a collegial, respectful and co-operative council. My leadership style is collaborative with a willingness to get to know others. I will listen and respect their views, encouraging collaboration when divisive or passionate viewpoints are brought forward. Trust is the foundation of a good relationship. I will be open and honest. We are a team with everyone treated equally and I will give credit where credit is due. Everyone wants to work in a positive and productive environment that supports them to do their best. I will work to make that happen.

A: Sandyne Beach-McCutcheon, St. Albert Council Candidate
I believe I can build effective, collaborative relationships with each of my colleagues if I have a thorough understanding of what is important to them in the context of what they hope to achieve for residents over our term. That awareness will help me to find the common ground between us. My own behaviour must reflect what I expect of others: appreciation of various viewpoints, understanding of the greater good, and willingness to listen and learn.

A: Al Bohachyk, St. Albert Council Candidate
My entire adult working career was centred on dealing with people’s problems. Through training and experience, I learned and practised the skills of interpersonal conflict resolution, communication, mentorship and team building. I would foster a good relationship by focusing on the issues at hand and maintaining respectful dialogue with all of council, administration and constituents. Democracy demands that issues are examined carefully. I absolutely support the right of council to ask tough questions.

A: Wes Brodhead, St. Albert Council Candidate
I will treat all members of council with professionalism and respect. Fundamentally, I commit to personal conduct, inside and outside of council, that never brings the City of St. Albert or council into disrepute. I will argue strongly but professionally for what I believe is in the best interests of the community. Should the majority of council decide otherwise, I will unreservedly support council’s collective will. St. Albert deserves nothing less from all council members.

A: Jan Butler, St. Albert Council Candidate
Interpersonal relationships with the previous council have interfered with getting the job done. To disrespect fellow councillors is to disrespect the electorate. Fostering good relationships with fellow council members requires a fine balance between task-oriented and relationship-oriented leadership. Task-oriented methods ensure that council completes the job placed in front of them efficiently and accurately, while relationship-oriented leadership nurtures collaboration and co-operation. Implementing both methods ensures healthy debate and an effective council.

A: Craig Cameron, St. Albert Council Candidate
Trust, honesty and respect are essential to build a good relationship. As a new face to council, I will bring these values to my work with council. Good relationships take time to build and require others to extend the same values in return. I would expect that new council members would be open with each other and respect the diverse range of experiences, knowledge and perspectives of their fellow councillors.

A: Gilbert Cantin, St. Albert Council Candidate
I have the advantage of having no past history on council. I was not a part of the fights in present council. I do represent change for people looking for a new and fresh start for the next council. I am a person who can get along with anybody. It is in my nature to create bridges between my colleagues and good spirit so we can all work together.

A: Mark Cassidy, St. Albert Council Candidate
In 32 years of experience as a professional negotiator, I pulled parties together for the largest purchase of their lives. This required skill in bringing thousands of deals together through communicating with many fellow associates of differing personalities. My profession sets high goals which focus on providing reputable business practises by way of ethics, transparency and disclosure. In my profession, I have never been part of a disciplinary action.

A: Jacy Eberlein, St. Albert Council Candidate
Debate and argument are not a cause to hate. We should be celebrating the differences of opinion those in council can hold, as it will lead to a more representative council. If elected, I will continue to try to be polite and respectful to everyone, regardless of political opinion. I will govern based on logic and evidence, and weigh the merits of the other candidates’ arguments.

A: Jacquie Hansen, St. Albert Council Candidate
The Cuff recommendations are a great starting point. Developing a strong code of conduct, agreed to by council and well understood by the public is also important. Respecting perspectives and debating with diplomacy also fosters good working relationships. Being united after a vote has been taken shows leadership. By respecting the process of democracy, a council can build unity, rapport and move forward.

A: Sheena Hughes, St. Albert Council Candidate
Strong, professional relationships form from respect of personal differences and appreciation of similarities, and most importantly an equal standard of accountability and transparency for and by all council members. Current council recently set up for the next council an independent, third-party integrity commissioner to investigate, determine validity and provide recommendations for any concerns. This will allow council members to focus on city governance without distraction over potential ethical or legal breaches, or other items that might arise.

A: Charlene Jelinski, St. Albert Council Candidate
My professional background speaks volumes to my ability to foster relationships with others. As a psychiatric nurse, rapport building, communication, respect, honesty and conflict resolution are skills that come naturally. I have had my share of dealing with difficult people. I believe that in order for any group to work collaboratively, it must include diversity, difference of opinion and healthy debate.

A: Natalie Joly, St. Albert Council Candidate
The foundation of strong working relationships is trust. I foster relationships, with candidates and throughout the community, with candour and collaboration. My actions are consistent and respectful, both in private conversation and public statements. I am connecting with future councillors through conversation, finding common priorities and providing encouragement. As your councillor, I will continue to show respect for the perspective of residents and councillors and I will champion the decisions that council makes as a team.

A: Shayne Kawalilak, St. Albert Council Candidate
Fostering good relationships with my fellow council members is important to me and to St. Albert. I believe the best way for me to do that is to get to know them individually. We can learn one another’s strengths and how they best serve the goals of the team. I would encourage team-building meetings outside of chambers for open discussion. To properly serve St. Albert residents, council must stand together as one team.

A: Mark Kay, St. Albert Council Candidate
To succeed on council, I believe you should have served on a board or two. That would help develop the interpersonal skills needed to function efficiently on council. True council success depends on the group working for the community. Many times, it’s about putting your ego aside and doing what’s right for your community. You have to realize you’re there representing more than 60,000 people, not just yourself or your group’s interests.

A: Ken MacKay, St. Albert Council Candidate
It begins by being respectful and professional, being willing to listen, recognizing individual contributions of each member and having an understanding of governance practices. Councillors are not expected to agree on everything but you can disagree without being disagreeable. Respectful debate is healthy for informed decision-making. When people know that their ideas will be debated and considered properly rather than just fixating on each other’s faults or failures, you can build healthy relationships with each other.

A: Ufuoma Odebala-Fregene, St. Albert Council Candidate
I will foster a good relationship with my colleagues through being genuinely engaged in nurturing the individual and collective relationships. I expect to do so by honouring my campaign commitments to be compassionate, collaborative and accountable; my Christian faith will continue to inform my relational interactions; and my counselling experience will also come in handy. As a lifelong learner, I look forward to the opportunities for learning and change that the council’s relationship presents. I look forward to compassionately and effectively managing tensions and conflicts that will almost certainly arise.

A: Nestor Petriw, St. Albert Council Candidate
Collegiality is a relationship between colleagues, people united in a common purpose (like you would find in a profession). Unlike a profession, however, city council has a toothless code of conduct. Councillors who do not feel “bound by a common purpose” face no sanctions for disrespecting their fellow councillors. The solution rests in the hands of the electorate. If people want a respectful council, they must elect candidates who respect each other’s abilities and are united in the common purpose of being stewards of the whole community.

A: Hannes Rudolph, St. Albert Council Candidate
It’s very important to me to show respect for fellow council members and city staff.
I’m interested in discussing and analyzing ideas rather than people or their motives.
I will always make decisions in the best interests of the people of St Albert versus voting along with an alliance. I want to help establish a council that collaborates together and respects opposing viewpoints. I believe these are important steps to reach positive outcomes.

A: Bob Russell, St. Albert Council Candidate
George Cuff’s report overplayed the supposed lack of co-operation on the current council. I managed to obtain approval of all council members except the mayor for a policing committee so that this fall we will join all Alberta cities with civilian overview of police. We also approved the retention of an internal auditor proposed by councillor Cam MacKay. I worked with other councillors to get support for that initiative. I have used my mediation skills to get a lot of things done in the past year and will continue to do that with a new council.

A: Steve Stone, St. Albert Council Candidate
Debates on important ethical matters were misleadingly labelled as bickering (arguing over petty and trivial matters). Seven months of blocking and killing an audit of the mayor’s double-dipping and CRB income irregularities and councillors’ expenses, then seven months of not addressing the fallout of the Prefontaine scandal and funding of the mayor’s legal expenses of his private suit were causes of the disarray as described by Cuff. Confronting unethical roadblocks is not pretty but necessary.

A: Tash Taylor, St. Albert Council Candidate
I abide by the three Cs to effective governance: communication, co-operation and courtesy. I will support the mayor in that role, adhere to the code of conduct, operate as a united body and support decisions even when results are not in my favour. I will consider all viewpoints and ensure fair and professional communication, internally and externally. Furthermore, I will never take to social media to disparage a colleague or community group I may not support, nor divulge confidential information.

A: Jaye Walter, St. Albert Council Candidate
A member of city council is expected to be a professional at all times as they represent the people of St. Albert. As an experienced relationship manager, I have worked with people of different backgrounds toward the organization’s goals. Council would be no different: be a professional.

A: Ray Watkins, St. Albert Council Candidate
Have an open mind and listen. Be respectful of those with differing opinions. Don’t use the press to divide. Look for common ground. Determine a vision for the city that we all support. Choose a mayor who is a team-builder and who can bring council together to accomplish a shared vision. Speak as one voice with one vision, not seven voices with seven visions. We can disagree but we don’t have to be disagreeable.

A: Leonard Wilkins, St. Albert Council Candidate
Come prepared to meetings. Listen to opposing viewpoints. Give proper consideration to experts’ input. Respect other opinions and ideas. Clearly present your constituents’ concerns. Think before you react. Have an open mind. Be willing to accept new information. Vote. Accept the results. Move on to the next topic. Work with other councillors to find solutions that solve issues rather than addressing symptoms and that engage the best of each council member, not just my opinion.

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