Mentorship panel at a recent elected officials seminar in Richmond BC
There is no one job description for being a city councillor. It's something we all do differently. I'm entering into my third term on city council but I still see a huge value in learning. I want to continue to improve my service.
So, I've attended the training made available by Kamloops city staff, the staff at the Thompson Regional District, and by the BC Local Government Leadership Academy (LGLA). Typically, at the start of a council term, various trainings are organized and promoted.
I have recently been appointed to the Local Government Leadership Academy board and will be helping host elected official seminars this coming week in Kelowna. (pdf file link)
Training for local government officials, thus, has been even more in my mind.
A couple of reflections here:
1) It's an incredible opportunity, honour, and responsibility to be elected by your community to serve. There are pitfalls and risk to be aware of. I feel these should be framed in the overall context of all the amazing contributions one can make on a council and the incredible variety of council success stories. Knowing about pitfalls and risks is useful. These hopefully don't scare people into a state of not acting in the best interests of their community.
2) There are many different ideas and philosophies that can underpin a successful term on a council. In the trainings I have attended, I have tried not to take the presentations as exact road maps to success but, rather, as ideas to think about and assess in developing my own set of ideas and philosophies and way of operating.
3) We spend a lot of time learning the nuts and bolts of local government. I'm really happy when we also spend time on making friends with colleagues and building relationships. My first elected official seminar was nine years ago and I've still got great friends all across BC that I met there. We are resources for each other.
4) People's learning styles differ. And some of the training I've attended as been, to be blunt, really boring. I think it is so important to cater to different ways of information absorption and to think carefully about how to make all presentations as engaging and as interesting as possible. I find colorful anecdotes, real life examples, and variations in voice inflections quite useful in this regard. I especially favour table dialogue and discussion so participants can learn from each other.