Name: John Coulson
Occupation/background: chemical engineer
Why are you running for public office?
I am deeply concerned about the ability of Lantzville to remain an independent community.
I do not want to see Lantzville turned over to mass development.
To help effect change. Lantzville needs to reassess our District office and how it functions.
There are far too many discussions and decisions held in-camera. Are residents simply to trust what is unfolding? Residents’ perspectives should be a continual part of the process – not just on voting day.
What three priorities are important to you and how do you plan to tackle these issues, if elected?
Fiscal management – There are substantial tax savings available to the residents if the district and council were to practise sound fiscal management. This involves clearly distinguishing between needs and wants, just like in our own households. When money is tight that list of wants becomes pretty small in order to pay for the essentials. The district and council should exhibit a similar level of financial prudence.
Water – I suggest Lantzville takes a ‘pause’ on water. We need to identify the problems and needs, review all options available – not just Nanaimo, identify the long-term plan and costs, consult the residents, conduct a referendum. Lantzville does need water, but let’s implement a solution that meets the needs of existing users rather than new development.
Cultural/philosophical change within the district office – There are some critical issues within the district office and I question whether the CAO position is functioning effectively for the community. The CAO has 3,00 bosses; the CAO is not the boss of 3,600 residents.
How do you plan to manage taxes and spending?
Spending is out of control. Fourteen people work out of the district offices. The district is now spending over $1 million on salaries, wages and benefits. In 2015, this will be almost 40 per cent of total expenditures. The average for towns of comparable size to Lantzville is 16 per cent. This must be corrected. Perhaps fewer bodies and more ‘reasonable’ salaries.
What do you think it takes to lead Lantzville? Describe your leadership or co-working style.
Perspectives. Everyone has one, and a person can be right and wrong at the same time. A good leader facilitates recognition of other perspectives.
Diligently separating needs versus wants. Identify the problem or opportunity. Identify solutions. Identify costs. Perform a cost benefit analysis to identify the most cost effective solution based on the need.
Open, honest communication.
Facilitation of rational, respectful discussion.You can have a difference of opinion with someone and still have a respectful discussion.
Know what you don’t know. Confucius said that real knowledge is knowing the extent of one’s ignorance. Aristotle and Socrates said the same thing. A person must know the limits of their knowledge, ask for help when it’s needed, and admit a mistake when it is made.