I've submitted a painful resignation today as the city council representative on the city social planning council. I remain committed to productively contribute to the betterment of the social fabric of our community.
I have made some mistakes with my involvement with the social planning council - not ones I feel of intent, but ignorance. But big mistakes nonetheless and ones I need to take responsibility for.
I also feel that I should publicly explain what I feel happened, apologize, and also share what I have learnt, I think, so that I hopefully don't make such mistakes again.
First, a sincere apology. I understand that many social planning council members feel that I have sometimes (often?) dominate conversations at meetings. I should have been much more mindful of this, as a member of city council. I fervently believe the social planning council needs to be a place for the community to have its voice, and I feel awful that I have sucked oxygen out of the room.
There's another apology I have made, and the incident makes me feel even worse. I came into the city hall on Tuesday, Feb 26th, for the regular council day, and the Mayor asked me if I would be willing to sit down with Ray Jolicoeur and Randy Diehl to discuss my conduct at social planning council. I agreed, but I guess I was a little taken aback.
After the meeting, I was pretty emotional. I took Ray by the arm, and asked him why he had not just come talk to me one on one. I said "don't make me have to go through that again" or something pretty close. This was totally the wrong thing to do, and Ray took it as a threat. I would probably have taken it the same way, if I had been Ray. I totally did not mean to threaten, but I needed to be a lot more careful and professional.
I have met with Ray and personally apologized for what I have said and did to him. He has accepted that apology. I have a great respect for Ray and am thankful for his dedication to helping improve our community and to tackling very complex issues.
As many likely now, I have become quite passionate about the issues we discuss at social planning. Its absolutely critical that we bring the social lens to all city hall activities. I have tried to be an effective advocate for people at risk and in risk in Kamloops. I don't want the work of the social planning council compromised in any way.
I tried to figure a way I could stay on social planning committee, and be a better member. But, at this point, I don't feel this is possible. I need to prove that I have learned these painful and important lessons in many other forums. I commit to doing that and I hope people will hold me accountable to this committment.
What I have learned from this:
1. It is critically important that I, as a member of council, do not take time and energy away from valuable citizen contributions. At social planning council, it is now pretty apparent to me that I was taking time away from social planning members by talking more than I really should have, and not listening enough. I have served on a number of different committees at city hall and in the community, every group is different. I need to do a much better job assessing the balance between talking and listening.
2. Emotional situations have to be handled with great care. Sometimes you say things that you shouldn't. I did not intend to be threatening to Ray Jolicoeur, but I should have realized that saying what I said could be taken in that way. Ray is a friend of mine, and I should have taken a deep breath, been much more professional and business like, and accepted that he dealt with an very uncomfortable situation the best way he knew how.