On March 20th, I addressed Oshawa City Council regarding the Regional and City Councillor vacancy. My proposal was to appoint a City Councillor to the Regional and City Councillor vacancy, and offer an open call for individuals for the vacant City Councillor position.
In this video, we heard varying opinions from delegates regarding proposals on how to fill the vacancy. I welcomed questions from Councillors Rick Kerr and Amy McQuiad-England. My delegation presentation commences at 48:30 and completes at 1:00:49.
While some of the Councillors may not have agreed with my position, I appreciated their discourse. It is clear that taxpayers are passionate about how Oshawa is represented on Council and it is encouraging to see how many people were in attendance.
Outcome: Councillors opted for appointments instead of a by-election in order to fill the council vacancy left behind by sudden passing of Nancy Diamond. Filling the gap resulted in two appointments that took place on Monday. First, council voted 5-3 to appoint City Councillor Doug Sanders to fill Diamond's Regional and City Councillor role. Following that, Gail Bates, the next runner up on the Councillor election ballot, was called up to fill his place.
To view the full video, click on the image above or visit the Rogers TV Durham link below:
Copy of presentation:
Thank you Mayor John Henry and Council,
My name is Alex Down, and I'm a Communications and Public Affairs Specialist living and working in Oshawa. I have experience and education in Public Relations and Political Science, and am currently continuing my studies in Adult Education and Digital Technology at UOIT.
I’m here to address City Council regarding the Regional and City Councillor vacancy. My proposal is to appoint a City Councillor to the Regional and City Councillor vacancy, and offer an open call for individuals for the vacant City Councillor position.
Oshawa’s image is changing. We’re becoming a hub of innovation. We’re growing at an unprecedented rate. And our diverse community is ever evolving. What’s truly exciting is that with all of this change, we’re welcoming new ideas and perspectives.
Council, we have a unique opportunity here. The standard thing to do would be to hold a by-election. But consider cost versus time. With a by-election, the candidate would serve the balance of the term for as short as 14 months or up to 17 months. The term is almost 3 quarters complete.
We shouldn’t be spending $150,000 - $175,000 of taxpayers’ money to fill a vacancy for such a short period of time. Honestly, what would be the voter turn out look like? Would it be a true reflection of Oshawa?
Instead, let’s promote from within. The combination of promoting a City Councillor to the Regional seat then holding an open call for the City seat ensures we aren’t incurring the costs of a by-election, while respecting the votes of Oshawa taxpayers. A City Councillor should be appointed as they have viable experience and were elected by the people in the last election.
Let’s be serious, we need to consider risk. Regional Councillor is not an entry-level position; it’s a large body of work with a wide scope and greater responsibility. The responsibility deserves the attention from someone who the people wanted.
I’m sure tonight we’ll hear people pushing for former Councillors to step into the Regional seat, but the fact is that they didn’t win the last election and they shouldn’t be entitled to the position. They would be coming in cold to a seat that needs someone at the top of their game. They should have to start from the beginning again, and our City Councillors who were voted in should be given the chance to fill the vacancy.
I’m here tonight to represent a new idea – one that reflects the emerging face of Oshawa. It’s an idea to stay true to Oshawa’s voice, but also allow room for a new voice to enter without major risk. With an open call for the City seat, it would be a short window for someone to learn the ropes, and with an election on the horizon, it would be better they do it in a City Councillor position.
Let’s try a different angle. Let’s have an open call for the City seat. Let’s pick someone with passion, with fresh ideas, and someone who has a genuine interest in getting involved with City Council.
This is our chance. Let’s reflect the face of the new Oshawa we’re living in.
Thank you for your time.