Tough questions again from an eight year old

A year ago I visited Columbia elementary school ( http://www.penticton.ca/EN/meta/city-news/mayors-minute/schooled-by-an-eight-year-old.html ) this year I attended hoping not to get schooled by an eight year old again. After providing a brief overview of council with respect to how we get elected, to how a meeting is conducted, and how motions are passed, it was straight to questions.

They asked the basic what is the best thing and hardest part of being a Mayor. They asked about waterslides, what are my goals, green initiatives, more activities for kids, and is it difficult making decisions?

Very often council is placed in a position where a decision made will impact or change the daily routines or lives of people in the community. There are times when you can see and hear the fear, concern, anxiety, and sometimes excitement. It is difficult because someone is not going to be happy with your decision, and truthfully, knowing that you can’t please everyone is one of the most difficult realities for council. I tried to illustrate a scenario where a council chamber was full with children and a motion was made to allow free ice cream every Saturday to kids.  I told them while we would debate the pros and cons we would have to gaze out to the gallery and see the enthusiastic children hoping for free ice cream. We reviewed the pros such as; it’s for kids, family event that brings people downtown, everyone loves ice cream. We reviewed the cons such as; costly, logistically difficult (how many, what flavors), and what if people from outside Penticton wanted free ice cream but weren’t helping fund the program. We concluded that if the motion passed…children would be happy but many tax payers would not be too pleased.

The question that I really had to think about was “Who has inspired you”? 

I am very involved with Hockey so I started off with Duncan Keith, local hockey hero. I remember Duncan playing minor hockey here, and while he was talented he wasn’t the biggest or best player…he got to be the top defenseman in the NHL by dedicating himself to getting better. Every day he would shoot pucks after school; skip activities with his friends so he could get better. Another inspirational player was my friend Peter…he had a brain tumor and despite his illness he never missed a game and he always had a smile and played with so much energy, vigor and fearlessness. No matter how difficult I thought I had it…it could never compare to his struggle which he never showed. Politically I admire Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi for the way he was the leader during their floods and got strangers helping strangers transforming a big city into a community collective. I also admire Christy Clark’s charismatic enthusiasm and how she is positive, optimistic and focused despite all the negativity and politics that come with the territory.

I wish we took more time to acknowledge and spotlight local achievements or local people that inspire. I would like to recognize Marianne McHale and Jeremy McGoran who recently spoke publicly about their own mental health struggles with anxiety and depression. Both are local radio celebrities and I commend their courage to be public; which may very well help someone else who is struggling…that truly is inspirational!