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Opinion: Bill Walton, Ready! Ready!

Warriors at Ready! Ready!
20180717 ready walton

Ready! Ready! Is the command for dragon boat racers to have their paddles buried in the water awaiting the bang of the starter’s pistol to begin a race. The Warriors of Hope have been doing practice starts all summer on Trout Lake (thanks for tooting your car horns in recognition) and we get off to a pretty decent start of a race. We also practice for the middle of the race and then at the end of the race – another burst of energy that none of us thinks we have left in the tank. I was thinking about all the candidates for the municipal election and wondering if they are Ready!

I see a few lawn signs sprouting up here and there and the initial interviews by the media are setting out the course for the candidates. Online ads and pictures in the paper are appearing but one wonders if it is not too soon. Although the winningest councillor last time was advertising months before the others got a paddle in the water. I am wondering how that is going to work this time.

The set of questions for the candidates in the Nugget interviews was fairly comprehensive and the answers were an interesting read. A theme by many of the newcomers was transparency and trust – something not mentioned too often by the old guard. And I liked how they handled the Baylor report –something that seemed to fly right over the heads of most of our elected representatives.

Being a team player sounds appealing but we need people who do think for themselves. Sure, after a consensus is reached you play on the team side, but we need people who have a mindset that says ‘this is what I think – tell me otherwise.’ Of course, it helps that you have done a little thinking and research before you give an opinion.

Electing more women to council seems like a fair thing to do given that they represent more than half our population. However, they must be willing and capable – just as we expect the men to be – when they put their names forward. Women can bring a slightly different view to issues and that is sometimes what we need. I paddle with 21 women in a dragon boat and believe me, I agree with them no matter what they say.

I think the Taxpayers Association did the right thing in disbanding and putting their names on the ballot. It is no secret that the Mayor and some councillors did not like the things the Association people were saying. But to me they ought to have talked these issues out – many were transparency and trust issues – and maybe the rhetoric would not have reached the depths that it did. Now, if some of the TA people are elected and any of the old council are re-elected, we can only hope to be a fly on the wall – in the spirit of transparency.

It is good to read that many of the candidates are talking about small businesses and not that pie-in-sky huge factory that will save our tax butt. However, along with looking for more taxes the candidates must be aware of what we are spending: New arenas, fixing the dock, entertaining the populace with events and, although it is not a lot of money, Summer in the Park or Heritage Day or whatever we call it next – is symbolic of how the City uses our taxes. I’d like to hear more about these issues – in detail. It’s years too late to mention a splash pad.

Four years ago I wrote a column about Paddling in Shallow Water and after reading it again, I think it is still pertinent. Paddling in shallow water is a trial for dragon boaters (shallow sandbars are even more so but that’s an inside story) thinking shallow – short-term –has been problem for our council.

Another thing we look for in Dragon Boat racing is the lily-dipper. That’s a paddler who only gets the paddle part way into the water and consequently does not pull effectively. One might say that councillors who do not pull their weight or miss meetings are lily-dipping and we don’t want them on Team City Hall.

In any event, we are past the Ready! Ready! stage of the race. As we approach the halfway mark maybe we could have a new set of questions and answers so we can see how the team is faring. As in most dragon boat races, it will be the last 100 meters that determine a winner. Will it be the public debates that push a candidate over the finish line?

Perhaps now is the time to cheer on your favourites – I’m sure they would appreciate a few words of encouragement. Just saying.