At municipal halls around the West Shore this week and next, the newest slate of elected local politicians have and are embarking on the next phase of their political life.
The new four-year term scared off some veteran councillors around the Capital Region. But for those undaunted candidates who ran anyway and were successful, this period marks a new beginning, with eyes on both the here and now and the horizon.
The five mayors, three of whom have worn the chains of office for some time and two of whom sat on council for at least a few terms before winning the mayoral race, make public their lists of personal goals and council objectives for the next four years. That sharing provides the first chance for residents and local property owners to begin holding their elected officials’ feet to the fire on policy and council actions.
The council chambers have so far been full for the inaugural council meetings. While many in attendance were family members of councillors, staff, or individuals with some other official or social connection to the politicians, some residents simply came to see what their new council members had to say and get a taste of how the business of their municipality gets done.
Granted, not a lot of complex business is done in those first meetings, but it’s a good dry run for nearly a dozen rookie councillors who, along with the council veterans, will attend hundreds of events in their official capacities over the next four years.
Council meetings are not exactly a spectator sport, but when issues of importance or impact are brought before the group, such as development proposals or decisions that require spending tax money, they tend to attract more of a crowd.
Some residents might like to make a new year’s resolution to become more in tune with what’s going on at the town hall and vow to get more involved in the input process before such decisions are made by mayor and council.
The democratic process is designed and intended to allow participation in local government activities by residents, whether they’re a homeowner, renter or commercial property owner.
In our five West Shore municipalities, there’s plenty of opportunity to get involved, including on the various advisory committees. Why not volunteer to take on such a role? You’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the goings on at council.