Leadership skills important for city councillors

Tyler Clarke
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

NOTE: This is a longer version of a story that appears in the Tuesday, Oct. 23 edition of the Daily Herald. 

City Hall

When one considers leadership skills, the first person in city council that comes to mind is the mayor, but what about the eight councillors?

The city’s ward system dictates that each councillor must take a leadership role within his or her ward, Ward 2 candidate Peggi-Lynn Gatin said.

“What we really need is community leadership,” she said. “It’s about working with people in the community and bringing these voices forward.”

Being a city councillor isn’t about bringing just one voice forward, she said, with every councillor bringing various voices to council chambers. 

Rattling off a long list of community and province-wide initiatives she’s part of, Gatin takes pause at Community Networking Coalition.

The organization is similar to Community Mobilization Prince Albert, in that it links various agencies together to better the community, but is more of a grassroots organization, she said.

For Ward 5 incumbent Cheryl Ring, her voting record is an exemplification of leadership.

“Being a leader is about making the best decision possible for the greater good, not bowing to outside pressure,” she said. “Leading by example (and) not being afraid to work hard.”

The following is what some of the city councillor candidates had to say about the importance of leadership on city council — a list limited to those who responded on two days’ notice by email, last week.

No space limit was provided and edits were limited to grammar and clarity.


• Jim Tsannie Sr. — Ward 2 candidate

What leadership qualities/experience will you bring to the table?

My responsibility extends to the area of experience that I worked privately as a consultant, working on proposal and policy development as well as the work that I do with my present place of employment where I have extensive responsibilities to accommodate the First Nation memberships that we represent.

I am an outspoken person. Whenever I have an issue that needs to be addressed, I pursue this until I acquire the necessary information to make out a working solution that all can benefit from. I am presently a vice-chair of the Western Mining Action Network, which recently had our bi-annual assembly here in Prince Albert, where we had members from as far as Mexico and all across the United States and various locations throughout Canada.

Why is this important for city councillors?

We need people to properly represent and be able to speak out when the questions that affect their ward, and if you’ve not heard from council this can impair your ability to represent your ward effectively. I plan on developing working relationships with all city council members. If I acquire this support from council, I would have better chance to make your views heard and accomplish change to benefit the ward that I will represent.


• Joel Thiessen — Ward 2 candidate

What leadership qualities/experience will you bring to the table?

There are many kinds of people that our city council needs. There are experienced people, idea men, and what I like to call reconcilers. I am an idea man. I am one that brings forth newer ideas to the table. Whether they are chosen or not, it will help keep our council and city moving forward with different ideas.

Why is this important for city councillors?

We all know that to be successful we must be able to staff our weaknesses. We have many experienced men and women, we have a couple reconcilers to keep council honest, but our idea men are a little lacking. Without idea men, we look to what other cities have done, being imitators instead of innovators. We need to be innovators, finding new ways to do a job.


• Lee Atkinson — Ward 3 incumbent

My leadership style is one of working toward consensus whenever possible. I believe that everyone around the table has good ideas, and by working through issues with open discussion, we will arrive at the best possible solutions. As the saying goes, none of us is as smart as all of us.

One of the responsibilities of being on city council is representing the city on various boards and committees, often in the role of chair. One of my roles in this area was as chair of the Library Board for nine years, during which time I led three contract negotiations. The negotiating team chose to use interest-based bargaining, which proved to be extremely successful and a positive experience for all those involved, and I’m very proud that we were able to settle all three contracts without any threat of job action.  Another example occurred during my time as chair of the Housing Committee, which successfully developed the idea of establishing a housing reserve. When this proposal was brought to council, it received unanimous support.

A councillor represents the people of their ward, and has to be prepared to lead initiatives on their behalf. Working with other members of council and the community is the best way to find solutions that will be sustainable and widely supported.


• Conrad Burns — Ward 3 candidate

Leadership is a broad concept. It involves so many different things, but it is boils down to standing up for the people and doing what is right for everyone.

I have many different experiences that aid becoming a good leader. I was part of the Prince Albert Boxing Club for 10 years. Four of those 10 years I have been a coach. I have taught youth and adults and needed to understand the craft to be a good teacher and instructor. In a group of up to 30 students, I needed to be the voice and leader.

With social issues, I help organize and participate in the Walk of Hope. It was a walk from Prince Albert to Saskatoon to raise awareness about abuse towards women. This area is often over looked. One in four women are abused. It was important to stand up and do something. We had a rally in Prince Albert and then walked for three days to Saskatoon to have a rally there.

A good leader also needs to be a good follower. They are the voice of the community and needs to meet their concerns.

Working with and talking to different organizations in Prince Albert, I have learned we have a lot of concerns. We have a high homeless rate, unemployment and crime rate. We are concerned about community centres and if the city is meeting the people needs. There are also worries about snow removal, congested streets and the safety of school children. As a follower, a leader needs to listen and plan to create change for a better tomorrow.

A leader needs to be strong. Sometimes a person needs to make a stand on an issue. Even in the face of adversity, a leader needs to let the small person have a voice.

In the face of an ever-changing Prince Albert, diversity is a new key dynamic. All these people have wonder experiences and could enrich our community. Their talents and skills could make our city better. We need to find a way utilize people’s knowledge and passions. Empowering people and standing behind these people will make an impact. 

Leaders need to meet the needs of the people. They are the voices for everyone. Everyone needs to be heard. As a leader you also need to be strong and do what is right for the community. I am ready and I want to serve the people.


• David Koester – Ward 8 candidate

I believe my varied work experience in several sectors that relate to the City of Prince Albert will be a definite asset as a City Councilor.

Beginning with the years I worked for Parsons and Whittemor of New York at the Prince Albert Mill then, as a foreign project supervisor at a pulp and paper mill in Algeria.

My career in real estate includes board membership in the Prince Albert Association of Realtors, as well as provincial and national boards. I have owned and operated both an appraisal and mortgage company and real estate company in the city.

As a consultant to the City of Prince Albert, I worked on the land assembly project, which resulted in the construction of the Forestry Centre. I also negotiated the purchase of the Municipal Services Centre (city yards), from the province.

I have served on the SIAST board of directors, as a member of the audit committee that operates an annual budget in excess of $200 million. As a liaison for the board, I provided leadership and support in establishing the first student family housing project at SIAST Woodland Campus.

What we really need is community leadership. It’s about working with people in the community and bringing these voices forward. Ward 2 candidate Peggi-Lynn Gatin

As a member of the Prince Albert Parkland Regional Health Authority, I gained an understanding of the issues that impact our city and the vast area our present hospital services.

My experience working on committees over the years has provided me with the opportunity to work with others toward a common goal. Prince Albert is a growing, prosperous city with great potential, but it needs strong leadership from council members who take the job seriously in order to be the city it can be. I look forward to using my experience to effectively represent the residents of Ward 8.


• Chad Mogg — Ward 2 candidate

In 2007 I moved back home to Prince Albert. Since I have moved back, I opened a lawn maintenance company.  I learned a lot in terms of time management and leadership. I always knew what needed to be done and got it done. I realized you need proper time management and realistic goals or your going to let your team and customers down. In 2011, I opened my new business and since then I have really learned a lot along the way, as in daily operations, budgeting and making sure I'm getting the maximum use out of every dollar being spent. I am listening to my customers and staff trying everything in my power to accommodate them. With my business I am always trying to figure out how to better promote it so I can reach as many people as I can. This is similar to how a city should be run.  Council needs to work together, get the plans in place for all operations so the city can run at a peak of efficiency. We also need to get out province and nation wide to better promote this wonderful city we all call home, so we can attract new residents and business.

Running a city like a business is so important for a city councillor because the city is a business and we have competition out there, these towns and cities are promoting their own places and making dealings with their community easier. Business and residents are going to these communities and governments are funding them more. If Prince Albert does not change in council, we watch others grow and miss out on big opportunities


• Charlene Miller — Ward 1 incumbent

What leadership qualities/experience will you bring to the table?

I am a good listener, because as a councillor we must listen to the people we represent. I have the experience to tell and teach the rest of council what Ward 1 needs and wants, and that is there it helps if you live in the ward so you know what the people need and want are.

Why is this important for city councillors?

Communication is very important in what we do. As a councillor, we get calls and we call city hall for the people with their issues, and get back to them. It's good to have someone who already knows how things work at city hall so you can begin work as soon as possible!


• Darwin Zurakowski — Ward 4 candidate

One example of my leadership experience would have to do with the creation of my business. I have had to create the plan and put in place the actions and budgets needed, while being able to see firsthand the challenges and difficulties faced in today's Prince Albert. That work required tireless enthusiasm and a need to reach out and communicate openly with clients as well as city administration.

A business needs leadership to show direction and purpose to its investors as well as its clients, and I have been able to provide that and build on it in today's economy and competitive marketplace.

Taking that leadership onto the board of directors for the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce, I have been able to add my voice to the business community in this city, adding a perspective to enable others to live out their hopes and dreams in their own business. I now look to take that to city council, speaking for the people of Ward 4 with the same open and accountable voice needed to make their needs heard.

Prince Albert is growing. We have an amazing untapped potential that promises growth and great opportunity for our community if this growth is handled well.

Along with this growth comes greater demands on our local government and City Hall, demands that require energy, enthusiasm and new perspective on our governance that preserves our valuable traditions but opens us up to the promise of tomorrow.


• Colleen Whitedeer — Ward 2 candidate

Leadership means being able to stand in the face of adversity and stand up for what you believe in and fight for change.

A leader is someone who is passionate about their beliefs and wants to inspire others to do the same. It’s the ability to work collaboratively with individuals or groups to brainstorm and come up with specific goals and to then mentor, monitor and motivate people to achieve those goals.

Based on my experiences as a woman, single mother and former university student, I have had to learn the importance of integrity and respect. Leaders learn from their mistakes and improve with time. It’s about having the time and making it a commitment to become an effective leader.

Change comes from changing yourself, and in return others will follow. To inspire others there are certain things you must do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual everyday work and improving my skills.

Being the vice-president for a non-profit organization, I have had to take the initiative to go out into the community of Prince Albert to sit down and meet with directors for many of the awesome non-profit organizations here in the city. I am an advocate for many people who come from different social backgrounds. I’ve attending meetings in Ottawa and have met with many government officials.

Why is (leadership) important for city councillors?

It’s a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and direct council in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.

I am able to carry out this process by applying my leadership attributes, beliefs, values, character, knowledge and skills.

Leadership differs in that it makes the followers want to achieve high goals, as opposed to bossing people around. By engaging yourself with the community brings much more success for everyone rather than trying to find a solution for something you have no experience in. I will be the voice for everyone in the community of Prince Albert and ensure that no voice from our elders/seniors, women, youth and gay rights populations go unheard!


• Ted Zurakowski — Ward 8 incumbent

In order to be effective as a city councillor and in order to represent the people who elect me in a meaningful way, I have found that to get things done, my leadership style needs to be adapted to the demands of the particular situation.

Sometimes you can knock on the door of city hall to get things done, and sometimes you need to knock the door down.

Accomplishing the massive infrastructure upgrade to 28th Street West in conjunction with the West Hill Flood Protection Program took the support of council as a whole. 

Thus, teamwork is essential via open communication and the sharing of ideas. Leadership at council is about influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation. I have often felt in the minority in many situations, but I still bring my ideas and concerns to the table and quite often those ideas catch hold.

Leadership is less about my needs, and more about the needs of the people of west hill and the taxpayers of Prince Albert as a whole.

After every meeting we should ask ourselves, “How have we served the people of Prince Albert today?”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Community Networking Coalition, First Nation Western Mining Action Network Housing Committee Prince Albert Association of Realtors Forestry Centre Municipal Services Centre Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce 28th Street West

Geographic location: Mexico, United States, Canada Saskatoon Prince Albert New York Algeria Ottawa

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page