Rupert’s future too big for just one vision

Four have signed up to become the next mayor. Arguably, whomever that shall be, will become the most important Prince Rupert has ever had.

Then there will be one.

Four people have signed up to become the next mayor of Prince Rupert. Arguably, whomever that shall be, will become the most important mayor Prince Rupert has ever had — one way or another, for better or for worse.

As the entry deadline passed on Friday, Lee Brain, Tony Briglio, Sheila Gordon-Payne and Jack Mussallem have tossed their hats into the ring for Prince Rupert’s most important position.

But is it?

Short of being able to decide points of order, which can be appealed, the position of mayor is no more or less important than that of a councillor when it comes to actual municipal governance.

A mayor has no unilateral executive powers.

One person, one vote.

In fact, the power of municipal governance lies with the council, not the mayor. Just ask Rob Ford.

No, where the importance of mayor comes into play is in the backroom and in front of a microphone.

Brain, Briglio, Gordon-Payne and Mussallem will tell you that, if elected, they can and will implement their vision of Prince Rupert’s future.

Simply put, they don’t have that power.

While they are the head and chief executive officer of the municipality, under Sec. 116 of the Community Charter, the mayor is to provide leadership, organization and guidance, but most importantly, is to “reflect the will of council and to carry out other duties on behalf of council”.

That leaves Prince Rupert voters with two very big tasks this November.

Who will be the mayor  — the voice of this city — and who will be the other six sitting around the council table telling the mayor what to actually say.

Incumbents Anna Ashley, Barry Cunningham, Gina Garon, Nelson Kinney and Joy Thorkelson are all in, as well as Wade Niesh, Gurvinder Randhawa, Blair Mirau and Raymond Pedersen. It will be from these individuals Prince Rupert’s future will come.

That is, as long as the mayor doesn’t subvert council’s wishes and, by extension, that of the voters by manipulating back room meetings or the city hall message to carry out his or her own agenda, the future direction of Prince Rupert will come from seven people — not one.

Again, arguably, the selection of this mayor and this council will be the most important one in the history of this city. And it is so terribly important that this be a vision of seven and not one.

There is not a lucid person in this city that doesn’t know Prince Rupert is on the cusp of great opportunity and great peril. The choices to be made in the next few years by the seven around the table at City Hall will be momentous in their consequence.

These choices are too important to too many to be made by just one.