I’ve mentioned in previous blog entries and on my various social media channels that I have a great deal of experience with how municipal government works. I want to take this opportunity to go into a little more detail about what that means and why it makes me a strong candidate for one of the six seats for St. Catharines at Regional Council.
In 2000, I started working for a public relations firm called OEB International (it is now Enterprise Canada) and under the mentorship of Lou Cahill and John Armstrong, I began to learn about government relations. In addition to writing speeches and building presentations for various municipal and regional officials and projects, we also advised them on how to communicate with the media in a mutually beneficial way.
After a couple of years working at OEB, I was offered a job at the City of Welland. First, I was the Administrative Assistant to the CAO, quickly promoted to the role of Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Manager. In this role, I handled communications and issues management work, as well as meeting and working with politicians and staff from other municipalities and the Region. I worked through an election campaign (but not on the campaign, as staff has no business whatsoever getting involved in campaigns), and developed the training material and managed the transition for the new mayor and council. I played an integral role in the development of departmental budgets and training senior management team members on communications. I also led the charge to make Welland the first certified Safe Community in the Niagara region (Safe Communities Canada is now a part of Parachute Canada).
Whilst working for the City of Welland, I also completed my certification in municipal administration from AMCTO. This program required successful completion of four 30-hour courses (including essays and exams), as well as the successful completion of a 3-hour in-person exam. Course material was written by Richard Tindal, who is no lightweight when it comes to knowing how local government works, and topics included: Introduction to Local Government, Municipal Administrative Structure, Municipal Financial Management, and Management in the Municipality.
Following my tenure with the City of Welland, I started my own event planning and public relations business and – because of some of the contacts I had made over the previous years – continued to work on municipal and regional projects.
All of this experience made my time on St. Catharines City Council much better, because I wasn’t just looking at a budget to approve it, I knew what it was to do the work of creating that budget. I wasn’t coming up with ideas for initiatives that would never work; I knew what the Municipal Act said was and was not within the City’s scope of business. I wasn’t asking questions of staff about the basics of how things worked (like snow plowing, waste management, what was city or regional responsibility, etc.); I knew from having worked as staff how things worked. It also enabled me to ask staff better questions. Knowing how things worked on the staff side, helped me ask more critical questions of staff before voting on something at Council.
All of this, though, and my feet still planted firmly on the ground in what it means to raise children in this city; what it means to run a business and/or work for other organizations in this city; what it means to try to get around on transit in this city; what it means to properly communicate with the media in this city; what it means to start a non-profit organization in this city; what it means to be actively engaged in community initiatives in this city. All of this means I’m still able to bring a fresh perspective to the discussion, because I haven’t been immersed in only politics for years; I haven’t been sitting at the Council table without a full grasp of what the majority of our community members are experiencing around affordability, employment, transit, and the environment.
You can learn more about my detailed education, work, and community experience here.
In the meantime, you can rest assured that I will bring integrity; open, honest communication; and a wealth of experience to Regional Council.
It’s time to Reset the Region.