When you receive comments on something you have done, or have announced you will do, how do you ‘process’ it? Do you consider it as criticism, critique or feedback? The message, in terms of the information transferred, may be the same but its intent depends more on how it is received than how it was offered. An angry customer’s remarks might provide more valuable feedback than an expensive consultant’s soothing words. Would you prefer no input? It might make things more comfortable but does it make things better? We each have our own sense of what we feel is criticism and what is feedback. It seems the closer the input concerns us, or someone we care about, the more likely we will process it as criticism. The exact same input provided to an unrelated third-party will likely strike us more as valid feedback than criticism.

With that little bit of background let’s discuss how ParrySounds will be voting in this month’s municipal election. For close to four years I have attended just about every open session of Council, sat on a couple of committees, and have offered my opinion and comments publicly in several deputations and more than 250 blog posts. Depending on where you sit relative to members of Staff and Council members you might consider these posts to be criticism, critique or feedback. I treat it like a job, a volunteer job without Council oversight and control. My name is on the website and I interact directly with people on Staff and Council, taking responsibility for what I have written. Transparency is an important part of the democratic process and there is no place for increasingly common ‘chicken-shit’ anonymous blogs, letters or editorials.

With that perspective let me share my election selections. Let’s remember not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Mayor – Jamie McGarvey

This will perhaps be a surprise to some. I was very critical of his role as the deciding vote to remove the volunteer head of the Downtown Business Association. It was a serious error that has had a chilling effect on transparency and due process. Nonetheless, I believe Mayor McGarvey has done a very good job in his first term as mayor and he will receive my support, and vote, for re-election.

Council – Paul Borneman, Brad Horne, Bonnie Keith, Dan McCauley, Keith Saulnier, Dave Williams

Wait, Councillors McCauley and Williams aren’t running. Well they both would have received my vote. Despite some disagreement on policy and politics with each of them I feel they both did a very capable and conscientious job while serving the Town. As for the remaining four Councillors, each will receive my vote with hopes that they will do as good a job in the upcoming term of Council as they did in the one just ending. The two rookies really seemed to pick up their game in the last couple of years. There is a learning curve, and with more veterans than rookies likely to be elected Council should keep moving things forward with some momentum.

That leaves me with two undecided votes (yes I know I don’t have to cast all six votes). I’ll keep my decision on those two spots to myself, mostly because I haven’t made a final decision. All of the remaining candidates seem capable with perhaps one exception. In the end I believe 90% of the job of Councillor involves common sense, showing up on time for Council and Committee meetings, and doing the necessary homework. That may be tipping my hand, but there are still a couple of weeks left for me to make final decisions.

That’s it for me and this year’s election. I will have regular coverage of the Council meeting on the 21st. I will not be offering any further election input or predictions. It’s time for the residents of Parry Sound to make their decision.

It’s Just a Job! (Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog)