Politicians head to class to prepare for new term

The newly elected officials have been invited to their inaugural introduction to the role in local government

School’s in for the Capital Region’s councillors and mayors.

The newly elected officials have been invited to their inaugural introduction to the role in local government in a two-evening orientation session hosted by Esquimalt township next week.

“As a total greenhorn, it really helped with the governance structure,” said Esquimalt Coun. Meagan Brame, who took copious notes at the course hosted by the township after the 2008 election.

It also proved to be a valuable networking opportunity during which she heard from returning councillors and rookies like herself “and you realize you’re not alone in any of it,” said Brame, who will attend next week’s presentations to prepare for her second term on council.

On Monday (Nov. 28), North Saanich-based local government advisor, Gordon McIntosh, will explore topics on governance, roles and responsibilities of mayors, councillors and staff, as well as strategy, policy and services.

That overview will help ground councils in the fundamental role of local government. McIntosh, who heads the North Saanich-based Local Government Leadership Institute, will give his students a scorecard so they can easily assess their decision making, financial accountability, intergovernmental relations and communications with staff during their term.

“They might talk about that and say, ‘Our decisions are taking too long,’” said McIntosh. “Then, what’s equally important, is not just talking about it, but then saying, ‘How can we improve it?’”

On Wednesday (Nov. 30), Lower Mainland parliamentarian Eli Mina, will speak on meetings, rules and effective decision making, covering topics such as council interactions with the public and the rules of order during meetings.

“By having a joint session with professional presenters, we can ensure that all elected officials, many of whom have had no formal training or previous experience with local government, hear the same messages,” Laurie Hurst, Esquimalt’s chief administrative officer, said in an email.