I want to begin by again acknowledging the courage and civic commitment of anyone who puts their name up for public office and makes a run for it. But after thinking about yesterday’s results, I think we have a problem with incumbency in Guelph. It may be a function of the advantage of incumbency intersecting with our ward system.
We only saw changes in this election where the sitting councilors did not seek re-election, a change of only two of 12 councilors.
It seems our council is stagnating under the ward system. There were at least two strong candidates (I am confident of it being more, but OK) not elected that would have improved our council over what it is today and will be for the next four years. We have what we have until 2022 with some incumbents having first chosen in 2006 or earlier. I do not expect the unsuccessful candidates to talk about this and they should not and would not, but I can as Joe Citizen and I so I am.
If you want to dismiss this as gripe, that is your right but if so, I am not likely going to influence you on much anyway. It is short sighted of you though, as much as you can rationalize your position now. (Who knows, circumstances will be such that you will be politicking for this in eight years.)
But for the rest of you, this is about civic renewal. It is entirely reasonable and healthy to have term limits of three consecutive terms. If you have served three unbroken terms, yes, it is time to step back for at least a term. Or put your name forward for another role. But 12 years is long enough. You have made your contribution in that role and it is time for someone else to contribute, too. Of course, if you are a longer-serving incumbent you would balk at having to sit it out for a term. You feel you have work to do and wanted for it. But let us be real. Someone else can step into your role. We can all be replaced. How that next person fills that role and the impact they make will be different. But that was also true for you. And, let us be real that you would balk at it because you know the power of incumbency which… well, it proves my point on needing term limits.