OP-ED: Election Observations from a Retiring Councillor

Outgoing Ward 6 City Councillor Karl Wettstein wrote the following as a Letter to the Editor for the Guelph Mercury-Tribune, and he asked if he could share it with Guelph Politico as well…

…You can read the letter from Wettstein below.

Our city must recover lost ground:

Watching my first municipal election in almost 20 years from the sidelines has been very DIFFERENT. It has for the most part been very ENCOURAGING but also a bit DISAPPOINTING.

Guelph has come a long way during the 2000s. We are a well known and well respected medium sized city on both the national and even international stage. Like our fellow municipalities we have worked through numerous challenges but can be proud of how each term of Council has played a positive role in the current level of municipal maturity that we have achieved. There is the inevitable blaming game from one administration to the next but for the most part it is short term politics and we survive it.

The DIFFERENT part of being an observer has been realizing how much work and support is required just to run for Council – I get exhausted just thinking about ‎3 months of campaigning, door knocking, signs, fund raising, debates, filling out questionnaires, coffee meetings, phone calls and unending emails, etc.

“I think I need a nap!!”

The most ENCOURAGING part has been the number and the diversity of people within our city who were ‎prepared to put their names forward and take on this challenge. I have very much enjoyed having a coffee with a number of them.

Over the years we have also been blessed with talented and committed professional staff who have been instrumental in helping us overcome some of our political differences.

They have often been our saviours in keeping key projects on track across Council terms. The library and the infrastructure ‎gap are two good examples.

‎My one major DISAPPOINTMENT during this past term, and one that I share responsibility for, is lost ground in governance including leadership.

No one is identifying this as a priority or an important challenge for our next Council. I assure you it was a constant area of concern & discussion during our past term‎.

Good Governance is one of the more difficult areas to evolve as our City grows. It is often poorly understood. Nor is it generally in the foreground of people’s concerns, but it is essential to the success of our City’s evolution.

Examples of where we have lost ground in Governance include :

– Leadership
– Audit ‎
– Council Compensation
– CAO Bylaw
‎- CAO Performance Reviews & Contracts
– Increased Micro Managing

It was tough slogging, across a number of Council terms, to get “Good Governance” up to the level required by a growing and evolving city.

‎Our new Leadership Team must regain this lost ground.

My personal choices when I cast my vote will be heavily weighted by the candidates’ willingness and ability to ‎respond to this challenge.

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