The new term has started with Mayor Gillingham keeping his election promise to reduce the size of Executive Policy Committee. Oftentimes last term people expressed scepticism and concern about the 'strong Mayor model' or what some coined "EPC+2" the executive policy committee and the two Deputy Mayor's to create the 9 votes needed to pass the majority of items that come before council. So what is it being in the inner circle really like?
Look, I take a city-wide view to my role of Councillor seriously, I literally run on being a 'protective ward voice and city-wide city councillor". In some ways, being on EPC is what I came to city hall to do. However, in serving on EPC, I serve at the pleasure of Mayor Gillingham.
An EPC is a practical means to an end. Mayor Gillingham can not, and should not be reduced to just another City Councillor. In some important way you want a mayor to lead, and have a series of city-wide proposals to act on. To achieve the agenda he ran on Mayor Gillingham and his staff have to build the 'yes' votes they need. This takes collaboration and compromise to build unanimity of purpose regardless whether or not you appoint a cabinet-like inner-circle. It is important to remember, the Mayor, like your Councillor for Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry, has one vote. Just that one vote. So, the inner circle cabinet like structure of EPC surely does help. EPC, isn't different than any board I've been on with both members at large and an executive. Leading is hard. Executive leadership is needed. However, EPC doesn't have to be nine people. With Mayor Gillingham choosing to have six including his role as Chairperson of EPC, he's choosing to be deliberate about collaboration.
On the one hand EPC is exciting with privaledge and responsibility to influence city wide files and big city issues in Canada. On the other hand, it is a great deal more work. With more responsibility and pressure to lead and influence positively, attend events, work long hours away from family, including attending events on behalf of the Mayor.
I've won votes that have been contrary to a Mayor's expressed wishes and have lost some all the while remaining on EPC. I don't think my job is that different from other professional positions with respect to the requirement to oppose but not be oppositional, disagree, but not be disagreeable, take a position, but not be positional etc, etc, etc.
I will say this: A mayor's office has many more staff for the exclusive use of the Mayor. This can mean more time and attention paid to both developing ideas, and to whipping votes (for or against). This isn't the case in other cities where Councillors are given more policy and programming capacity. So it is the second component of Mayor Gillingham's election promise that I think is most compelling, in addition to reducing the size of EPC he also pledged to direct a component of his staff compliment for the exclusive use of Council.