Where’s the Beef (in our civic elections)?

It’s been called a cultural phenomenon and a marketing metaphor.

By questioning the matter of a hamburger over twenty five years ago, Clara Peller coined the iconic phrase, “Where’s the Beef?”

This question raised by the popular Wendy’s ad created a value proposition for consumers to consider; whether they were actually getting steak, or just sizzle.

The message holds as much relevance today.

While municipal candidates scramble to be seen and rub shoulders at community events, and to populate the social media networks before the municipal elections, let’s not be fooled. What really counts is substance, and we need to hear about it.

If you have already made up your mind to cast your vote on a candidates, friendliness, popularity, or name recognition, then don’t bother reading further.

Having lived in Coquitlam for 17 years and more recently, Port Moody for 5 years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and even work with many of our elected representatives and community volunteers on different committees and causes.

Many of the new candidates who are yet to hold an elected position have also served on a variety of community committees and will have their own experiences, opinions and ideas, to bring forward and share over the next seven weeks. I’m really hoping they’ll demonstrate their own substance, share their vision, how funds will be found, and openly challenge the track record of incumbents.

All candidates will no doubt claim to have the same moral fiber: Leadership, Accountability, Honesty, Sobriety, etc, and while philosophical statements and a list of concerns/issues are all very nice on websites, exactly what are your solutions (and not doing studies, task forces, etc) if you get elected?

In my opinion many do little more than just belong and talk, some being particularly good on their feet delivering sound bites, referring to the latest buzz words and talking in platitudes, because they’ve been around, but what have they done for us lately?

We should expect tangible results from those we elect, and those representatives with substance (perhaps a minority) are usually able to deliver and articulate what they propose for solutions, and quantitatively, what they have already achieved.

Throughout the Tri-cities there are incumbent candidates who need to be able to explain the outcomes of their tenure, and not just how many committees they served on or positions they’ve held, but what were the specific results of their committee work, and especially if they were the chairperson of a committee.

So to all candidates, tell us, what exactly have you done, why you are running, what is your vision, and what specifically are you planning to do, and how?  Where’s the beef?

5 thoughts on “Where’s the Beef (in our civic elections)?”

  1. John, your comments are right on the mark. What have Councillors achieved in their committees, are they going through the motions or are they leading their committees to actually accomplish something?

    What do all candidates hope to achieve in the next 3 years and how do they plan to do it? It is hard for the new hopefuls to commit to a strategy because they don’t have the information sitting Councillors have. I say judge those candidates on their previous commitment to the community. Incumbent candidates need to not only justify what they have done in the past but also provide a vision for the future.

  2. John – Your comments speak convincingly regarding the expectations that citizens should have of their elected officials. As in any job interview, the interviewer – in this case the public – seeks to know what incumbents and new candidates bring to the table with regard to background, experience and – most importantly – vision, style and stated objectives for the future. As we move deeper into the municipal campaign I look forward to the opportunities to discuss the vision and objectives I seek to achieve and to discuss the need for broad collaboration to achieve those goals.

  3. Hi John, here are some examples. I served on the Waste to Energy task force in 2008 and conducted a great deal of research on the proposed technology and asked tough questions to the proponent during the months of public input sessions. In dedicating myself to this process, I became convinced that the Plasco Waste to Energy plant was not appropriate for our community. The recommendation of this task force was unanimously adopted by council. I also served on the Environmental Protection Committee for 2 years and a number of motions that I made were taken to council and adopted, including a motion to change frequency of garbage/organics/recycling pickup to a schedule that would increase waste diversion. The work on this committee has had a direct impact on our ability to surpass our 70% waste diversion rate and lead the province in this area. While serving on the Transporation committee I advocated for completion of the Master Cycling Plan and shared ideas on this topic. While serving on the Land Use committee I ensured that resident’s concerns about a development were adequately addressed. If I felt they weren’t I would not support the motion. While on the board of the Port Moody Art Center Society I chaired a number of committees including a facilities planning committee in which we toured all nearby Art Centers and drafted a initial visioning document for a Cultural Plaza in Port Moody. I also overhauled the website of the Port Moody Ecological Society. There are other examples but what I hope to convey is that I work hard and have been engaged and committed to helping to improve the quality of life in our community. I hope to continue contributing in this way as your city councillor.

  4. Well this is totally unsolicited, but since I’ve got proof of some real substance, as well as some experience working with these candidates, I know where 3 of my votes are going:)


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