Recording every vote at council
I can’t stress enough the need to bring more accountability and transparency to council. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not accusing of anyone on council of doing anything improper. I’m looking at this as council as a whole and what other councils do to bring check and balances to their elected officials and we have some things we can do to improve our transparency and accountability to residents. The first thing we need to do is record every vote at city council.
Check out my video on bringing transparency and accountability to council with recorded votes on every motion at city council on my Facebook page.
Recording every vote
What do I mean by recorded vote? Currently, council minutes only reflect whether a motion was carried or defeated. It does not provide any information, very important information beyond that. A recorded vote can be asked for (or required depending on the type of motion) that actually lists who voted in favour and who voted against. I’m proposing that we do this for every single motion.
If the motion is even 7-0, whether for or against, should still list who voted for and who voted against (it’s important to do this in case an member of council is missing, so it’s not to confuse who was there and actually voted).
Why is this important?
You’re accountable to the residents of Spruce Grove on how you vote. You have to be prepared to defend how you voted and reasons for or against. Right now, a council member can hide behind the vote. Agenda minutes do not provide you with enough information for you to know how each person voted.
During election time, incumbents will tell you all of the good things council has done. They can take credit for projects that they were against, or ignore failed projects they supported. You have no idea if some projects, like the Spray Park at Jubilee park, was unanimously supported or residents had to lobby tooth and nail and work hard to convince aldermen to support the spray park, as they promised to do during the last election campaign. They can tell you anything you wish to hear for your vote. The way the votes are recorded now favour the incumbents. Unlike other cities and municipalities, they’re not running on their record, but what you want to hear.
As a new candidate, I’m out talking to you and hearing what you have to say, but unless we record the votes, you won’t know whether I sold you a bill of goods to get elected or if I stuck with what I campaigned on.
What can council do?
A motion can be made (indeed, it should be the first motion brought forward with the new city council, even before the motion to change alderman to councillor) that every motion record who voted for and against. It’s that easy. The recording secretary already notes if it’s carried or defeated. It’s simply adding the names behind how the motion went.
And it’s doable. Every other city or municipality in the Edmonton region does it. You can take a look for yourself by looking at minutes from: Edmonton, Stony Plain, Leduc, Devon, Strathcona County, and Parkland County.
I understand that a council member may vote against a motion that is passed. There is an understanding that you support how council voted, and I support that. I’m a team player. But I do believe in transparency and accountability and if elected, you deserve to know how I vote on every single motion.