Ballots cast and counted, the results now known, the work of our locally elected officials commences. These early days of a new mandate require our new mayor and councillors to come together as a team that seeks to move our greater community forward. This is no easy task.
Having had many opportunities in both my military and education careers to join a new team, whether a new ship or new school, the unpacking and understanding of what each team member brings to the table is a significant task. Getting to know your people is the first priority of a leader. The gifts, talents, and strengths that each member offers need to be assessed and leveraged against the needs or challenges for which they are best suited. Again, this takes time and it does not necessarily go smoothly at first. Democracy is a bumpy road sometimes if anything.
As we have witnessed in many other elections, particularly south of the Canadian border, the face of campaigning can be ugly. St. Albert was not immune to this. Vandalism to signs and placards, political smear campaigns, and social media fear-mongering found their way to our city. The outcome of the plebiscite questions will also give cause for hurt feelings and naysaying. Once again, the voters cast their ballots and we must respectfully abide with these outcomes.
We are stronger when we share our voices and listen to the concerns of our fellow citizens. This does not mean however, that we are entitled to get our way. Recall the words of JFK who when taking office as president asserted: “United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do – for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.” With the election over, we now must turn our attention to working together in earnest.
Our greatest task and responsibility as a citizen is to ensure we participate in and uphold democratic processes. Voting is one way to share your voice. Those who voted have every right to hold those elected to account. Public service through the lens of stewardship and servant leadership help bring vision and mission to fruition. There is no greater form of public service than to serve the common good. Leaders must not take their constituents for granted.
I want to thank all those who put their name forward in consideration of municipal office. Your courage, investment of time and energy, and passion to raise the quality of life in our community are very much appreciated. The electorate made its decision and for those running who did not get the nod this time, I encourage you to maintain your passion and commitment for the betterment of our society.
I wish to congratulate Mayor Heron and our councillors. I wish you great success in the work ahead of you. St. Albert is an excellent place to live and raise a family. Know that I will do my best as a citizen of this great city to contribute to our ongoing success. In the spirit of civics and collaboration I challenge readers: Ask not what your city can do for you – ask what you can do for your city!
Tim Cusack is an educator, writer, and member of the naval reserve.