To each their own
It may be because I am a journalist, but it always surprises me when elected officials not only show up, but speak at activism rallies.
Thinking deeper about this issue, I am forced to consider that it is acceptable.
While this reporter’s brain is screaming “stay objective,” I concede that objectivity is a myth for councillors. Yet, many are hesitant to open up about their opinions.
Councillors must be able to weigh both sides of an issue, especially one that affects locals. However, they should still be able to stand up for their own convictions.
The political role is like an extension of being an activist. I’m sure many ran for a seat at the table to make a difference on a particular issue, whether it be fighting bottled water, reducing public spending or saying no to wind turbines.
In fact, during the last municipal election, those vying for my own ward were asked about their stance on the wind turbine issue.
Those hoping to win a seat are obligated to voice opinions so that residents know who they are voting for. Once they arrive at the council table, those views do not go away.
Many decisions that councillors make will delight some and anger others, but the role requires listening and decision-making.
Councillors shouldn’t forget their passions once elected, but need to be open to both sides of the debate.
Don’t push your agenda
As elected officials, municipal councillors have a duty to represent all of their constituents, not just the most vocal.
Yes, they are absolutely entitled to their individual opinions and those should certainly be taken into account during their time in office, but a politician is meant to be the voice of everyone in their riding.
They weren’t elected solely to push their own agenda, they were elected to represent the people and industry.
Sure, politicians run for office based on platforms and causes and it’s important to keep to those promises once elected.
However, it’s equally important to let every constituent feel that their councillor has their back and will at least consider different views.
When a politician aligns with one side of a contentious argument, they risk alienating people who don’t feel the same way. By speaking out at activist rallies or events they draw an even clearer line showing their opinion.
Who wouldn’t have difficulty discussing an opposing idea with a councillor who publicly aligned with a polarized view of an issue?
Councillors probably should attend rallies and protests – they need to know what’s going on in the community – but if they wait to share their opinions at municipal meetings, where all of council is present, healthy debate and discussion will likely ensure more than one side of an issue is discussed.