After the fun of collaborating on a piece with Art that got into the Sun about the teacher's strike, my father and I co-wrote a letter to the NS News about the upcoming election. Unfortunately, I don't think it is going to get published. Here it is:
The only thing we know for sure about the next election in the City of North Vancouver is that, after twelve years, there will not be a Heywood on the next Council. With the benefit of that experience we have some advice to pass on to the candidates running to fill our seat (and the other seats) on Council, as well as for the people that will elect them:
1. Be aware
Being a Councillor is a very serious responsibility. It pays $40,000 a year including full benefits plus generous conference/travel allowance and in return for a commitment to show up for 34 regular Council Meetings (in 2014) and a half a dozen special meetings. That's $1,000 per meeting. Once elected you are really not accountable to anyone until the next election, which will be in four years. That's a lot of trust.
2. Be realistic
The electronic and paper package delivered to you on Friday afternoons before Monday Council meetings is often over 500 pages long. It may contain extremely detailed budgets, complex development proposals, ponderous bylaw recommendations and voluminous reports on everything from feral cats to the latest community health and recreation trends. If you are taking it seriously, you will find it overwhelming at times.
You will be invited to many more meetings and social events than you will have the capacity to attend, unless you are the Mayor with is the only one expected to be a full time politician. It is virtually impossible hold down a regular day job and lead a normal family life and perform this role properly. Something will have to give and usually will.
3. Be honest and unconflicted
This is an area where the bar is rising. One would think that the notion that candidates for Council should not to take money from the corporations or unions that benefit by the decisions they could make as Councillors is a very low ethical bar to clear. Amazingly, not everyone can.
You will feel better, and the public will have more respect for your decisions, if there are no connections between the organizations who benefit from your decisions as Councillor and those that fund your campaign.
4. Be independent and thoughtful
You are elected to think about the broad interests of the community and not just respond to each single interest group. If it looks like you are consistently voting with a block or in a way that does not square with the principles you claim to represent, you are taking up a seat that should be occupied by someone with a more independent and consistently principled point of view.
5. Do it for the right reasons
It is not a glory job. While some consider local government to be a farm team assignment to endure will they wait to be called up to the big leagues of politics, we hope that you don’t. North Vancouver is an unusually blessed community. It deserves to have local politicians who really have the best interests of the community at heart.
Our best wishes and thanks to everyone making the effort to run in the next election. We hope there is a record turnout!
Bob Heywood, Councillor (2002-2008)
Guy Heywood, Councillor (2008-2014)