Addendum on Prof. Siegel’s column #StCath

As pointed out to me on Twitter, I didn’t address the criticism from Prof. Seigel regarding the concern about over-governance. So here it goes:

It is entirely possible that some people like having more elected reps rather than fewer – in Prof. Seigel’s words, it allows councillors to ‘stay close to their constituents’. If that is your belief, then you may not agree with changing the system.

My response to that, however, is that with the system being proposed, the actual ratio of City Councillors to residents doesn’t change. Neither does the ratio of Regional Councillors to residents. It’s simply the ratio of politicians to residents which is altered. Each ward maintains two councillors for the residents to contact. It’s simply that one of them also fulfills the role of a Regional Councillor.

In practice, this is more useful for residents. I receive many inquiries from residents who have an issue with something that is Regional; social services or the state of a Regional road, for example. It is frustrating for residents to find out that the person they called can’t help them – and it sounds like passing the buck when I tell them it’s a Regional issue, and give them a list of 6 Regional Councillors they can contact. If my City Council colleague in the ward, however, was also a Regional Councillor, I have regular contact with her or him, and can help my colleague deal with our ward resident’s concerns more effectively.

I will note, by the way, that this serves as a bit of an indictment of the at-large method of electing councillors as well. That would be correct – I dislike the at-large method. I prefer ward based elections for two reasons:

1) It opens up the possibility for more residents to get involved. Had I had to run an at-large campaign in 2010, I would not be a councillor. The costs associated are too high for the average resident to compete (see the issues that Niagara Falls candidates face for some more context on that one).

2) It provides geographical context for residents. If you live in St. Patrick’s Ward, you know that Coun. Elliot and I are the Ward Councillors. If you have a question, you know who to contact. When it’s an at-large system, who do you call?

I hope that clears up my lack of opinion specifically related to that particular point.

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One comment

  1. […] With regard to the over-governance issue – we have 19 elected officials in a city of 132,000 people. Ajax, for example, has 7 elected reps for 109,600 residents. Oshawa has 11 reps for 141,590 residents. Both have dual duty reps at Durham Region. In York Region, Markham has 13 reps, some dual duty, representing 261,575 residents. Newmarket has 80,600 residents, and has a dual duty Councillor at the Region and City, as well as a total 9 reps. (EDIT: See my addendum to this point here) […]

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