My First Six Months at City Hall: A Personal Perspective
To celebrate the launch of my website and my first six months, I’ve penned a short summary as Councillor for St. Norbert. It is a tremendous honour and privilege to have this opportunity, and I will do my utmost to serve the area well. With seven new City Councillors, a new Mayor, and a series of momentous events that unfolded in the first six months after being elected, times have been interesting indeed! To say my first six months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement.
As your elected official, I represent the St. Norbert Ward on the Riel Community Committee, and am a member of City Council. In addition, Mayor Bowman appointed me as chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works, which results in me being a member of the Executive Policy Committee (EPC). The Mayor also appointed me Acting Deputy Mayor. I can’t begin to tell you how all my previous community work prepared me for these roles to guide our community and our city, and am I so thankful for the experience I gained in my pre-election community work! There is still a steep learning curve (similar to the slope of Mt Everest), but I am up for the challenge! More details of my responsibilities are on my website at City Hall Role.
From setting up an office to accommodating the needs of 53,444 residents living in 12 unique residential communities, from learning how to conduct City Hall meetings which are live streamed for the world to see, to participating in the development of the City’s 2015 budget, dealing with a city-wide boil water advisory, hiring a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), experiencing my first ‘residential snow removal’, working with the Mayor and EPC weekly, and attending many great community events, I have gained tremendous experience and insight that will serve me well going forward.
There are many departments and functions in the City that work extremely well, but I’ve also observed and experienced others that need some serious attention and care. I am very pleased to have served on the CAO Hiring Committee, and know we will see some solid improvements under our new CAO, Doug McNeil, and this new City Council.
If I were to highlight the two things that I’ve been most impressed with or amazed by, it would be:
1. The dedication which Mayor Bowman has to making real change at City Hall. Wow! If you think my first six months has been busy learning and taking hold of the St. Norbert Ward reigns, just try and imagine what Mayor Bowman is experiencing. Yes, I know he signed up for the job. So did I – but truly, I can confidently say even though every candidate should have a good idea what to expect, ‘expecting the unexpected’ is the norm at City Hall. Every single day, you never know what might unfold in addition to your scheduled activities. Our City has experienced a tumultuous past, and taking the reigns as Mayor and setting out to make change and move forward is an incredible challenge. Mayor Bowman has a giant task ahead, and is dedicated beyond belief. I am proud to be able to support him and Council to help move our City forward.
2. The role which media plays and their ability to frame a story. Wow! I’ve worked a lot with media over the years as an advocate on many issues. I am completely amazed at how a story can be framed. Yes, everyone interprets information in their own unique way. We have great reporters in our City, who dig hard and deep to get to the root of the story – and they do an excellent job. What amazes me is how the story can be framed, and how the ‘headlines’ can set a tone. I can be in meetings discussing a particular issue, then read the paper the next day, and wonder if I was even at that same meeting. This front row seat which I have at the table now makes me really re-think every article I read. I’d advise you to do the same. The facts may be there – but I find the manner in which the story is framed can be interpreted in many, many different ways.
I could probably write a thesis on my experience over the first six months, but will spare you! I am posting updates on my activities regularly on my website, Twitter and Facebook page, and I encourage you to sign up for my monthly E-Newsletter. Again, it is truly a great honour to be working as your St. Norbert City Councillor, and I look forward to making our community a thriving, great place to work and play.
Twitter short link: http://janicelukes.ca/?p=1633