Council newbies need to find their voices, quickly

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 23, 2017 - 6:18am Updated: October 23, 2017 - 11:13am

KAMLOOPS — The re-invigorated Kamloops City council holds its second meeting Tuesday, giving the two newbie councillors another chance to show that the trust placed in them by voters in the by-election wasn’t misplaced.

At their first meeting last week, the one and only time councillors Kathy Sinclair and Ray Dhaliwal spoke was when they both declared conflicts of interest on a matter involving Canada Day.

Otherwise, not a peep.

It’s daunting for new councillors to sit through their first meeting at the council table and try to follow along, so let’s not judge them too harshly but let’s also hope it doesn’t set a trend.

It concerns me when I hear people say they’re going to have a steep learning curve, and that we shouldn’t expect too much in the coming year.

This isn’t training day. New City councillors aren’t being paid to learn the ropes. They were elected, and are getting paid, to do a job.

Mayor Ken Christian wanted a by-election because he said council has a lot of work to do, a lot of important issues to catch up on — like KamPlan, and the budget.

So Sinclair and Dhaliwal owe it to the mayor, to the rest of council, and to the community, to hit the ground running. They were elected because they have good credentials and strong opinions about what’s best for Kamloops.

There’s no need to hold back on making use of those attributes. Their term may be for only a year but this isn’t a caretaker council. It is duly elected and sworn to serve its citizens.

During the by-election, there was much talk about housing, public safety, the arts, transportation, taxes, attracting new business and so on and so on.

Newbies are allowed to speak. They have equal standing around the council table to the veterans. Mayor Christian’s committee appointments will be ratified tomorrow, giving them solid grist for the political mill.

The two new Kamloops councillors need to find their voices, quickly.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.