Good mayors build strong, creative communities
How often do you think about your mayor? If you’re like me, not often enough. Yet consider how a mayor can support you and your neighbourhood.
Mayors have the ability to rethink the community – with added jobs, improved infrastructure and a collaborative government.
According to the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, UK, productive mayors can make government agencies more responsive and accountable to their citizens. They achieve accountability by giving more voice to low-income groups, or other groups that generally have little influence. As well, mayors are important in the struggle to reduce poverty and help people find and build housing, pursue livelihoods and access health care and schools.
There’s more to the story than community connections. Effective mayors must balance the need to attract new investment and support business expansion with social and environmental policies.
Back on this side of the pond, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi agree that building strong communities starts by ensuring all people have the opportunity to contribute.
“If not for the people who live here . . . then what are we building this for?” Iveson said during an Edmonton Mayors’ Forum: Building Strong Communities.
“How do we live together?” asked Nenshi. His answer is straightforward: “Building strong, inclusive communities starts by asking what role we can play in creating opportunity and prosperity for everyone.”
City mayors need to be “meaningfully included” in policy decisions when creating policies to build stronger cities, said Iveson. Also, municipal governments need to remain open and transparent – to work together collaboratively for the benefit of citizens while considering the environment that supports their communities.
While Nenshi commended Edmonton and Calgary for doing “a job for the world” in taking in Syrian refugees, he’s concerned that a lack of access to English language programs could stifle the newcomers’ ability to be fully included in their communities.
Iveson’s focus is to call on community development corporations and businesses to support more entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for those looking to settle here.
For a handy checklist that defines a “good” mayor, The McLeod Report offers this: a good mayor is honest, a leader, a person of action, an effective manager and is focused on economic development.
I have respect for those who can bring about positive change. As an urban researcher, I’m drawn to positive examples of good mayors, so perhaps the literature doesn’t fully represent any negative examples. But that’s the approach I’d prefer to take, one with constructive outcomes for my community.
We’re all in this together. When mayors don’t accomplish their goals and promises, we can always make change in future elections. But first we should learn more about them and their role in our backyards.
How happy are you with your mayor?
Images from Pixaby:
– City Hall by mintchipdesigns
– Change by geralt
– Vote by Tumisu
Guest Author Bio
Visit Shannon’s Blog / Website: www.shannonkernaghan.com
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