Thursday, August 10, 2023

Some Random Thoughts About Being Mayor of Langley City

In August, local government elected representatives do not meet. This time off gives folks a chance to reflect and recharge. As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on my first season as Mayor of Langley City.

One of the things I knew when running for Mayor is that there is more accountability to the community. As a Councillor, I was accountable for my actions. As the Mayor, I am accountable for my actions, the actions of Council, and the actions of the municipality. I have certainly felt that increased accountability. It can be stressful at times.

When people reach out to the Mayor, they generally believe I have more power than I actually have. I am continually surprised by the number of "special favours" people request of the Mayor. Folks want the Mayor to "fix" parking tickets, remove late payment penalties, have inspectors look the other way for building code violations, and speed through their subdivision or development applications. I'm OK with saying no to these requests.

I've also observed that people want to express their opinions about the world's state of affairs to me. Because the Langley City Mayor is a lot easier to get a hold of than the Premier or Prime Minister, I've found that the role of the Mayor is also providing an opportunity for people to express their concerns, even if the opportunity to action those concerns is limited.

As Mayor, I love when I can take action on an idea or request from a resident or business owner by bringing it to a City department or City Council to consider.

Between the Metro Vancouver Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional Library Board, Mayors' Council, City Council and committees, external committees, meetings with residents and businesses, and attending events, you could find yourself burnt out pretty quickly as Mayor. I needed to delegate responsibilities to other members of Council.

I'm glad that Councillor Paul Albrecht and Councillor Rosemary Wallace share responsibilities for the Metro Vancouver Regional District and Fraser Valley Regional Library Board.

Previous Mayors attended a bunch of other external committees that I'm happy to have delegated to other members of Council, such as Councillor Teri James, who attends Gateway of Hope Community Council or Councillor Leith White, who attends the Healthier Community Partnerships.

Councillor Delaney Malack and Councillor Mike Solyom serve on internal committees.

With many community events to attend, it has been important for me to share this responsibility with the Deputy Mayor. The role rotates among all members of Council

I heard the saying don't let the urgent override the important, and this resonates with me. I'm still learning this lesson. I constantly need to check that what the City and I are doing is consistent with Council's strategic priorities and that we are moving those priorities forward.

I've also learned that it is important that every member of Council sees a part of their vision for the community reflected in the City's policies and actions.

Politics, unfortunately, lends itself to a lot of gossip at the local level. I must continually check myself to ensure I don't get sucked into the day's gossip. I approach people from a place of trust regardless of the gossip because in the end a person's actions show what is important to them and what kind of person they are.

My final observation is to avoid getting involved in things that don't directly impact Langley City or the overall Metro Vancouver region. It is a surefire way to get into trouble. At the beginning of my term, I got invitations from the Government of China and the Government of Taiwan to meet. I decline both of those invites.

I'm excited about the future of Langley City, and I look forward to September, but over the next few weeks, I'll be taking a break.

1 comment:

Brad Hendy said...

Great insights. I may borrow a few.