New leaders bring new visions

By Kevin Woodhouse

The recent municipal elections held across the province in early November saw democracy in action with more West Islanders than the provincial average making a trip to the polls.

For the citizens of Baie d’Urfe, Dollard des Ormeux, Dorval and Lachine, voters got the tried and true experience of Mayors Maria Tutino, Ed Januszewski, Edgar Rouleau and Claude Dauphin, who have solid reputations for handling issues from constituents before a citizen has to plead his or her case during the monthly council question period.

In Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Councillor Dimitrios (Jim) Beis not only won as mayor but was handed a role on the Executive Committee by his new boss, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. Voters in Pointe Claire wanted to see longtime Councillor Morris Trudeau take the mayoral chair while towns like Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Ste. Anne de Bellevue saw exciting races with candidates vying for the top spot duking it out on televised debates.

Voters in those three municipalities cast their ballots for change.

Beaconsfield Mayor George Bourelle wasted no time in his mandate by adopting a code of expected behaviour that, to date, has turned the old council meetings where residents routinely sounded off on the mayor and even some councillors joined the fray into a more calm and informative based approach.

Michel Gibson began his first meeting as Kirkland’s mayor with an apology for some comments raised during the 33-day election campaign, as he took on colleague and former Mayor John Meaney.

The ability to admit wrong doing publically seemed to impress the packed crowd in attendance, a far cry from previous meetings where citizens railed against the former mayor and council for having initially dragged its heels on the cross-connected pipe issue that dominated news cycles for weeks on end.

In Ste. Anne de Bellevue, former councillor Mayor Paola Hawa has started a half-hour get-together with the public prior to the start of each council meeting and has endeavored to publish the council agenda well before the public meeting, a sore spot for council attendees who castigated the previous council for being too late in getting information across to citizens.

Municipal politicians are a lot more accessible than their provincial or federal counterparts due to the proximity of their duties. Good councillors take the time to see residents and to stop and talk with them in order to get a gauge of their riding’s concerns.

Making citizens an active part of the decision making process with plenty of pertinent details regarding expenses and projects can allow councils to actually govern and plan for the city’s future instead of wasting weeks with non-answers to citizens’ worries.

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