The Urbanite – Jon Liedtke – Aug. 27, 2014
Continuing my series of articles about the upcoming 2014 Windsor municipal election and what an incredible opportunity it presents, I want to talk about the merits of councillors working full-time hours.
Currently, there are a handful of candidates campaigning on the premise that if elected they’d put in full-time hours as a councillor, in contrast to the part-time hours which the position requires.
At face value, this is commendable as both the city and residents would be getting something for free: the city doesn’t have to pay out a full-time wage and residents receive the benefits of a full-time councillor.
But, we need to ask some important questions: what are the benefits to residents of having a full-time councillor? Would they receive quicker access to government services or remedies to situations?
It’s been stated by many residents and even councillors to me that if you want something done it’s far quicker to have a councillor address it directly, rather than deal with 311 or specific departments.
But is this fair to both residents and candidates themselves?
Not all candidates are in a position to work full time as a councillor, which is most likely one of the reasons why the issue is coming up it helps to carve out a niche in a crowded electoral field.
Whether candidates pledging to work full-time are retired or if their employment affords them the ability to put in the extra hours, at the end of the day, if elected, Windsorites are presented with a problem: candidates who are more financially secure will be perceived of as providing more ‘value’ to residents because they can put in more hours.
This creates a troubling situation where we could have certain wards represented by full-time councillors, but others by part-time councillors. While all residents are taxed equally, they wouldn’t be represented equally, and this isn’t right in a democratic society. Under this scenario, a fulltime councillor is accessible to their constituents 50 per cent more than their part-time counterparts.
The only equitable solution is to make the role of councillor full-time and I implore candidates to start talking about this very pressing topic.
Windsor is an urban centre with a population of over 200,000, millions of potential tourists lie within a few hours drive, and the city is regularly dealing with issues far more reaching in scope than a part-time councillor can oversee.
This isn’t 1950, it’s 2014 and it’s time we start to act like it. Make the role of city councillor a full-time position, and let’s get to work.
Jonathon Liedtke is the managing editor of The Urbanite, Windsor’s alternative newspaper. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.