The wisdom of elections

Most of us don’t want to run the City of Campbell River

Most of us don’t want to run the City of Campbell River.  We don’t want to go to the meetings, read the volumes of material, and engage in the endless discussions that are part and parcel of municipal politics.  Rather than do the work ourselves, we turn it over to others more willing than us, who are prepared to do the work of city councillors.  It is not an easy job, and they are entitled to our respect and courtesy.

We choose those who will undertake this work every three years at municipal elections, selecting the six most qualified from among those who are willing to stand for election.  We would be foolish to elect councillors on the basis of what they assert they will actually do, for we, and they, have no way to know the details of the challenges they will face during their three year terms.  Rather, we are wiser if we elect those who hold values consistent with our own.  By doing so we elect those who will make decisions in a manner consistent with that which we would in similar circumstances.

We elect six councillors, and each of us who votes is entitled to vote for six people.  It is a system that ensures that the council reflects the electoral wishes of the majority of those who vote.  At the last municipal election, four councillors sought re-election, and all four were re-elected.

Those four councillors are known to us and none of us can realistically state that we are surprised that they are acting in a manner consistent with their previous time on city council.  Contrary to the views expressed so eloquently by Mayor Jakeway when he stated that “Taxpayers are being screwed.” We are not.  The citizens of Campbell River are being represented by those selected by a majority of the voters, in a manner consistent with the values expressed and demonstrated by them.  That a vocal minority disagrees with their approach does not alter that.

Mayor Jakeway, on the other hand, was not elected by a majority of voters.  Less than 38 per cent of the voters voted for him.  A majority of voters, more than 54 per cent, voted for the two mayoralty candidates who had previously sat on city council.  In some places subsequent balloting is employed to ensure that the winner of an election has the support of the majority of the electorate.

One wonders if Mayor Jakeway would have been elected at all were such a system employed, but it matters not; we use the system we do, and Mayor Jakeway received the largest number of votes for Mayor.  As such, he is duly elected, and responsible to all of the citizens of Campbell River.

This is where Mayor Jakeway’s misunderstanding of his role is acute.  He states, “The responsibility of the mayor is to support the taxpayers who voted him in.”  He is wrong.  He is responsible to all of the citizens of Campbell River, including the majority of them who voted for other candidates for mayor, and for councillors who disagree with Mayor Jakeway.

There are political systems wherein a leader is beholden only to a minority of the population, but they are not called democracies.

Perhaps Mayor Jakeway is still finding his way in a new role.  Perhaps he has merely expressed himself hastily and did not mean the things he said.  One can only hope that with time, he will grow into the role of Mayor.  If not, it will be a long three years.

The Reverend David Fitzsimmons