I heard a great many times during the election campaign that communication continued to be a negative experience in our community. Although people work diligently to produce meaningful ads, posts, infographs, paper insertions and mail outs, there still appears to be a communications void (something to do with the lack of a daily local paper I suspect). With that in mind, I committed to myself that, if elected, I would do my best to add one more layer to the dearth of attempts to connect – the blog post. So… here we go. Month One in the life of this Municipality of Port Hope Councillor.
The month of December is notoriously busy for most with celebrations like Channukah, Christmas and Kwanza as well as company year ends and just overall busyness. This year, to add to the frenetic pace, our new term of council was sworn in on December 4th. This is always an exciting (yet mildly intimidating) time for a new council member. The evening was made particularly special by having the ceremonies presided over by Superior Court Judge, Justice Alan Ingram. A big shout of thanks to Kate Ingram, Communications and Community Outreach Co-Ordinator, for arranging this.
Next came the anticipation over the assignment of portfolios. We had been consulted as to our preference and submitted our top two choices. If there were any disappointments with the portfolios received, I certainly did not hear them. The new roles had been assigned so we got down to work. I was delighted to hear that I was assigned finance. As a numbers nerd I am right in my element. Less than a week after being sworn in I was in the middle of budget meetings. Might as well jump in with both feet right from the start!!
I was favourably impressed with the preparation and professionalism displayed by our team of directors. Quarterbacked by David Baxter, Directors McCormick, Edgar, Dodds, Davidson and Gilmer were a formidable front line. They understood that a series of first downs are the way to get to the goal line and Director Baxter skillfully led the squad to the goal. After tirelessly working as a group to prepare a good, solid foundation for the budget, they then worked with Council as we chopped and changed and adjusted and compromised until the end goal was obtained. We approved a budget that accomplished many of the priorities for the upcoming year while keeping the tax increase slightly less than the annual cost of living percentage. Touchdown!!
I am also delighted with the training opportunities and various other events/meetings and engagements that have been offered. One on one chats with the Mayor. A Magical Mystery Tour of the rural ward for the “newbies” with the outgoing Deputy Mayor Greg Burns. Orientation/training meetings with staff and all members of Council. Meetings with boards, committees and special interest groups. Orientation through AMCTO with Mayors and Councillors from the entire County. A housewarming reception with Greenwood Coalition. A coffee break presentation with MPP Piccini. Collecting for the Salvation Army. Invites to Christmas receptions. Introduction to the Police Services Board just prior to my first PSB meeting of which I am a proud member. Oh yes, and Council meetings!!
In between all this, I worked on year end for the four companies that I am a partner in with a little time thrown in for family and friends over Christmas!!! Am I busy? Yep. Am I loving it?? You bet!!!