Last week, Merritt’s four mayoral hopefuls answered their third Herald weekly question, regarding the use of N’Kwala Park for overnight camping and supporting Merritt’s unhoused. Along with eighteen council candidates, they form one of the largest pools of candidates the municipality has ever seen. With voters facing a wide variety of choices, the Herald looks to engage candidates and showcase their responses to the community’s question.
This week, the four candidates for Mayor answered their final weekly question, regarding the unity of city council. Their responses, in random order:
This week’s question: If elected, how would you unite council and ensure that Councillor’s views are fairly represented during meetings?
Mike Bhangu (City Councillor, 2018-2021)
“My personality doesn’t present a barrier to unity or a healthy discussion. Moreover, I invite reasonable dissent, as this can produce the best decision, and I truly love a good debate. To this, a leader must respect that dissent isn’t a personal attack or an attempt by another to climb the political ladder, but an opportunity.
“As one who experienced marginalization in the political forum, it doesn’t create a productive environment. Once the games that accompany relegation enter the decision-making arena, the best outcome is not reached and energy is exerted attacking. Elected officials risk a tremendous amount to represent the people and they don’t deserve to be silenced, bullied, colluded against, or discredited.
“When differences of opinion arise, I like to listen and understand why one believes as they do, and then identify and incorporate something in their idea that aligns with the general idea. To add, I’m skilled at reading body language, tone, etc. and possible correlations to unspoken ideas. With this, I can often build a consensus amid a group.”
Linda Brown (Mayor, incumbent)
“Listening to each other in respectful debate is key to understanding each other. It is essential that Council have the ear of the public in order to bring the many sides of the issue to a debate. It is expected that there will be many sides to a debate. Every Councillor needs to be able to speak freely, without interruption. It is up to all of us to respect that right. Councillors need to be able to speak their mind and be assured others are actively listening. This is where we can change the mind of others.
“According to the community charter, councillors are to come to the table with an open mind. Our procedures tell us that we, as council, must accept that outcome.
“Debate is where we as a team listen carefully to each other first and then form an opinion at that time.Unity is in accepting the decision of council. Once a decision has been made, it is a decision of Council. We speak as one voice. Even if the vote is 4:3, we all need to rally behind the decision.”
Mike Goetz (City Councillor, 2008-2018)
“Sometimes being a good leader is to know when to step back and let the Councillor who has the passion for the motion to take the lead. The best way to unite a council is to give all members the same amount of time to present and express themselves. In short, hear them. That’s all any of us want.”
To view the weekly question asked to council and school trustee candidates, along with all of the Herald’s coverage of this election, view the ‘Civic Elections’ tab on the Herald’s website.
The municipal election will take place on October 15, and will see Merrittonians elect one Mayor and six Councillors to a four year term. For more information on the election, visit www.merritt.ca/election22.