I was very pleasantly surprised at the All Candidates Forum, Oct. 5. It was standing room only; in fact, so was the overflow room. For the most part, the candidates were well spoken and interesting (in my opinion the best ever). The event certainly helped me with my decisions as to who should make up the team to lead our City into the future.
My objective with this last column is to not only encourage you to vote, but also to ask you to consider the following traits of good leaders in the hope they may assist you in your decision-making on Oct. 18. Hopefully your voting decision-making strategy will not be similar to those used by many when selecting a horse at a horse race. In the grandstand we hear comments such as: “That one is pretty, it sure looks fast,” or “I always pick the grey one.” Rather, it is best to use the racing guide and check out the horse’s history. Voting is no different; check out the candidates’ history, what they have said and what they stand for. Can you recognize any of these traits in the candidates?
• Optimism – Leaders who have done great things have never been defeatists. “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” mentality has only created chaos. Optimists see opportunity when faced with challenges. They find creative solutions, take risks, and have a “can do” attitude verses simply “no.”
• Visionary - These leaders do not dwell or get stuck in the past. They learn from the past and look to the future. They analyze their resources and rearrange them, like pieces to a puzzle, until they fit. They are builders who collaborate with others to find solutions that will move them forward and not backward.
• Passionate - These leaders love what they do. They are not there for their ego. Their interests are broad; they are not a one-trick-pony. They share ideas and energize those around them. There is no problem with commitment or staying focussed.
• Workers - These leaders are there for the cause, not the glory. They roll up their sleeves and look for all the options. They do not settle for the easy out, they work until they find the best solution.
• Mental toughness – These leaders will stick to their values, even in the face of hostile interest groups. They are not beholding to anyone. They not only ask the tough questions, they will make the tough decisions.
My last point is that Airdrie is not broke in any sense of the word. It is my opinion that most of the negatives that you have been hearing in some of the local political campaigns is smoke and hype. My biggest fear, however, is that we do not appreciate our own backyard. Some candidates will interpret my comments as being biased or defensive. I was going to let the facts speak for themselves by listing all of City Hall’s recognitions over the past five years but I do not have enough column space. Instead, I will compare some of the candidates’ comments to the recognition the City has received from unbiased outside sources.
For example, “The City’s budget is very confusing, complicated, so much so accountants have a hard time understanding it.” Every year since 2006, the City’s budget has been recognized by an international body (G.F.O.A.) for producing a document that meets the highest principles of government budgeting. These documents are judged on their ability to act as a policy document, a financial plan, an operational guide and a communications device. The City’s Finance Committee, whose majority is common folk like you, have always praised the document.
Some candidates have suggested that the City has done little to attract new businesses to the community. Look around you and the facts speak for themselves. In case that is not enough, the City has been recognized by the Economic Development Association of Alberta for its Airdrie Now strategy. In 2009, Airdrie was recognized by Alberta Venture as one of the top 10 communities in which to do business. In 2007, Economic Development of Canada recognized Airdrie for its Sustainable Prosperity Strategy.
There has been talk of an out-of-touch City Hall. This, after working with the volunteers of the very successful 55+ Games, the Centennial Celebrations, the Air Show, the success of Airdrie Housing Corporation, the opening of skateboard park and the opening of the second phase of Genesis Place. Are you kidding me? Yes, it is probable that some special interest groups were disgruntled because their interests were not put ahead of those of the community. Too bad, so sad.
It takes a great council with great staff to accomplish great things. The rest of Alberta has noticed that we have a great City staff. Now it is our mission and responsibility to make sure we elect a great council.
We can only do that if we vote on Oct. 18.
George Keen is the former City manager for Airdrie.