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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak and his council followers get lesson in grassroots democracy

Cranbrook mayor Scott Manjak, who took office less than a year ago, and five of his six councillors, have just received a lesson in grassroots democracy which they would do well to heed for the remainder of their three-year term, after more than 3,000 citizens came forward to reject council's plan to use an Alternative Approval Process (AAP)to expand the city's boundaries. Only Councillor Bob Whetham opposed the motion to approve the AAP.

After council approved the Alternative Approval Process approach to a proposed huge expansion of the city's boundaries at its July meeting, rather than send the matter to a referendum by the city's voters, the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society, headed by president Sharon Cross, launched a grassroots campaign to force council to hold a referendum. Ten percent of the eligible voters (1,475) were needed to sign Elector Response forms, and on Wednesday, the society delivered 3,024 forms to city hall, more than twice the required number.

Manjak actively campaigned in favour of the Alternative Approval Process by sending a glossy brochure to each household, and running a two-page advertisement in the local paper. The mayor went so far as to tell voters that if they had signed an Elector Response Form, and wished to change their mind, just call him, and he would arrange to have the form withdrawn. His offer provoked an angry response among some citizens and undoubtedly led to an increased number opposing the council decision.

It seems that the law surrounding the handling of the response forms is somewhat cloudy in British Columbia, but for a mayor to offer to become directly involved in having a form withdrawn in any sort of voting process is totally unacceptable. At the very least Manjak should apologize to the citizens he represents.

Sharon Cross told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman in an article by Bonnie Ryan on August 27, 2009, that the mobilization of the community had been an incredibly inspiring event, referring to it as `truly a grassroots movement.`

The matter will be placed before council again at its September 14, 2009 meeting. Let us hope that Manjak and Councillors Jim Wavrecan, Liz Schatschneider, Angus Davis, Diana J. Scott and Denise Pallesen who supported the Alternative Approval Process fully realize that they have been badly damaged by their presumptuous action, and they must now work to bring the community together again. They are totally responsible for dividing it.




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3 comments:

Michael J said...

Cindy from Timmins wrote
Nice to see that people can pull together like that as a community and get the required outcome!!!

Larry said...

Very well articulated blog - I hope it gets wide distrubtion in our lovely community

Larry Schafer - Cranbrook

Michael J said...

Thanks Larry.

I have only started commenting on Cranbrook affairs but the word seems to be getting out as traffic from here has grown in past few days.

Michael

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