Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is it fun to lose? NO!

Is it fun to lose? NO! My reflection on Running for Mayor in Springwater Township

With that said, I would not have missed the opportunity of meeting so many people in Springwater over the last two months. Travelling around our vast township, I was encouraged and inspired by the hundreds of people I was able to speak with. I personally visited about three thousand homes in Elmvale, Phelpston, Hillsdale, Anten Mills, Snow Valley, Centre Vespra and Minesing areas. Securing 33% of the votes attest to the fact that people did want change in our Township. I was disappointed I could not crack the deep rooted political force led by some of our previous municipal leaders. The real problem the group had with me was their feeling I had not paid my dues by working my way through the ranks. I think that was a narrow view. I ran on experienced leadership that has been so lacking and exemplified by recent self serving heads of council. But as they say that is politics.

I enjoyed our town hall meetings, even the one in Minesing where the former deputy mayor spent more time defending the old council instead of being an effective moderator. It became clear after he interrupted my first question at 30 seconds that he was out to disparage me. The good thing is that people are not stupid and recognized his petty politics. I really enjoyed the live Rogers TV debate in Barrie and was a little disappointed that my two opponents did not want to engage in another televised debate from Rogers in Collingwood.

When I review everything I did during the campaign, I cannot think of any real changes I would have made. My platform was clear and the people I spoke to supported it. Transparency and Fiscal Management are important to everyone in the township and I hope this council follows through.

I was amused by one fact. If you recall, the past council spearheaded by the two former heads of council (complaining about Michael Jacob’s editorials) passed a unanimous motion to move the Township information page to the Barrie Advance from the Springwater News for a year because they wanted more effective communication. Isn’t it ironic that every one of those candidates running for council (including the outgoing mayor) ran ads in the Springwater News and none in the Advance. To me this illustrates the petty politics of the last council which I hope is gone for good. I must give a special plug to the Springwater News . Many of the people I spoke to during the campaign asked if I was the Bill French or C. William French that wrote letters to the editor and business articles in Springwater News and the answer of course was yes. Many commented on the campaign ads I ran and asked good questions prompted by those ads. This little home grown newspaper is read in all areas of the township. Why? Because people want to know what is going on in their municipality. I hope the new councilors pick up on Michael Jacobs’s offer to publish comments from the new councilors in the Springwater News on a regular basis. You will notice that the local MP’s and MPP’s file regular columns and actually pay for them because they find the paper a valuable communication link.

Would I do it again? The simple answer is yes, but based on the newly elected members of council, it will most likely be unnecessary. Even before this last campaign, I approached our new incoming deputy mayor after he filed his nomination papers and asked him if he wanted to consider stepping up to the Mayor position. I contacted him as his first newspaper ad seemed to be in tune with my thinking. I told him that if he wanted to run for mayor, I would most likely withdraw and support his efforts. I ran because I felt and still feel that I was the only candidate for mayor that had actual leadership experience and could lead this council and the township to a new level of performance. The good news is that there are a number of new councilors that have the background and experience to seek the top job in the next election and I believe will push to make the changes I outlined in my campaign during the new term.

In the end I did not get the job I sought but I am pleased that more voters engaged in the process. We the voters have brought new faces and a fresh approach to the next four years of council. We definitely got change and rid ourselves of self serving interests.

In closing I must thank the more than 50 people that volunteered and assisted in all aspects of my campaign. A special thanks to the encouragement I received from people like Keith and Ina Wood and God’s blessing on Donny Nelson who I promised two weeks before his passing that I would challenge the position for mayor. Another special thanks goes to the lady I call Super Trooper! She knows who she is.

Bill French