BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Councillor asks: Is integrity commissioner's office being 'hijacked'?' published on April 27.
I appreciated the in-depth article written by Bob Bruton following up on Coun. Morales's concerns about complaints to the city integrity commissioner, in terms of the “negative effect they can have on our community as a whole,” in Mr. Morales’s words.
I found the comments from the mayor and Coun. Kungl to be thoughtful and helpful. I was less impressed by Coun. Morales’s remarks.
From what I have seen, the integrity commissioner has been competently and objectively assisting the city residents and leaders to better navigate conflicts and tensions between people with diverse viewpoints. Complaints such as the complaint against Mr. Hamilton have a positive impact on our community by ensuring that city leaders demonstrate respect and inclusion of all residents.
As the city rapidly develops, members of council and city committees face increasing demands. Certainly, council members, including Mr. Morales, hold stressful, demanding “part-time” leadership positions. Councillors who skilfully fulfil their roles are likely not adequately compensated for their efforts.
However, we have a beautiful, dynamic, fast-growing city and during this pivotal period, we need leaders with the skills and attitudes to capitalize on the best of the city’s attributes. Barrie residents have the right to expect excellence of our leaders.
Exercising integrity and professionalism are part of the expectations for city leaders. As we approach elections next fall, I hope to see that all the current councillors demonstrate an understanding of the value of the integrity commissioner in holding city leaders to a high standard.
Furthermore, with the election approaching next October, I would like to see members of council proactively act to encourage more people to be actively involved as citizens; welcoming accountability is only one part of respecting the value of citizen involvement.
I would also encourage clearer communication with residents about council matters. For example, I have three university degrees, but find the vocabulary used in the agenda and minutes for council to be confusing; I would like to see the legal language accompanied by plain language so citizens can properly keep informed about plans for our city.
Additionally, what about a campaign to increase voter turnout?
A healthy, functioning democracy requires citizens as much as it does leaders and I welcome any measure that allows accountability and transparent relations between elected or appointed leaders, city staff, or residents.