If the letter to the editor, ‘Billings council must justify its wage increases,’ (published in the January 8 edition of the Recorder) had originated from some independent member of the Billings community, I would take it more seriously, but it didn’t.
It comes from a former councillor and failed mayoral candidate in the last election, who must know the typical workload of any member of council, let alone that of the mayor.
I attend most council meetings as a member of the public. As a member of the public, I am a member of one committee, the climate action committee, which is currently quite active with meetings at least once a month. Typical council information packages run from 120-150 pages so even before council meets, each member has to spend several hours reviewing that material in preparation for voting on motions.
Licking the finger and holding it up in the wind is not enough before voting. Informing yourself and getting some feedback from the community is certainly a wise action, before holding up your hand for a vote.
Even with the revised compensation rates, I don’t think anyone stands for election for the income. I had no plans to run in the last election (I was being treated for cancer) but when the cutoff date for filing was fast approaching with only one candidate (Ms. Erskine) filed for mayor and only four candidates for the four councillor positions (which would have resulted in acclamation and no election process), I filed for a councillor position to at least force a debate so voters could see where each candidate stood. Very soon after, several other candidates came forward to file, including two candidates for mayor.
I see no problem at all in questioning council’s elective decisions. However, when failed candidates question all decisions, it becomes counter-productive, divisive and frankly, does not show them to be open-minded and worthy of consideration in future elections. At least, that’s my opinion!