Andy Morel: The road forward might involve beer or coffee but definitely involves conversation...

Josefin Svedberg
By Josefin Svedberg
November 12th, 2014

Entrepreneur Andy Morel explains how he would like to see Rossland City Council running and how he would work as a person in the team after being involved with provincial and federal politics.

What made you run for council?

I have a real passion for Rossland. I grew up in a small town and I love community. I was raised in a family, were my family was very involved in community, everything from service clubs to politics to business. I have a good idea of what it takes to be a part of a small town.

I have been very involved with this community in many different capacities. Including things like Black Jack Ski Club and director for almost 10 years for the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture. And the reason I resigned from that just so I could focus on some new stuff including my bid for this surprisingly, I did not happen to coincide but it just so has happened that it has freed me up a bit of time to pursue something new, which is council.

There were a number of issues that came up in the last couple of terms that I felt really needed to be addressed. I felt frustrated because of my pride in the community, I felt frustrated that the community was not getting managed as well as it could be. The leadership was lacking and dysfunctional. It is one thing to lead, but it is another thing to lead it as an autocrat.  I felt that the community was not well represented. In that I just decided that people have to step forward if they want change.

I have been involved in politics on different levels. I ran in both provincial and federal politics. And I felt that it was time to take a look at the municipal and realize that it is the one that mostly directly affect us. We live in this town and our direct taxes are paid to the community and our direct services are seen.

How were you involved in provincial and federal politics?

I ran in both jurisdictions in 2007-2008 and I ran for the Green Party. I have a strong affinity for the importance of marrying the environment with the economy and with our social system. Some folks might call it socialist, but I just think it is practical; it is the idea of how important it is that we keep these things in balance. The Green Party, at that time, aligned with my beliefs.

What do you think about the Beers and Ballots night?

I liked it a lot. I will definitely encourage a similar format on a monthly or bimonthly basis. It is really important that we meet our citizens on a social less formal arrangement like that. Offering them the opportunity to come to council is a very intimidating experience for the average person. And I think that experience for me was a lot more productive and it is two-way and a formal council meeting does not offer that option.

I got a lot of good questions and I got a lot of ideas too. I recognized that there were a lot of opportunities to expand on a lot of those ideas. And to be honest, I’m a firm believer that I’m only a conduit here. I’m definitely going to bring the voice of the community people back to council. There are a lot of people with a wide breadth of knowledge and experiences in our community; it is an incredibly talented group of people.

How do you feel about the delegation bylaw?

I’m not as familiar with previous councils but I’m thinking about how, years ago, they functioned relative to their staff and how the CAO administered. But there must have been some dysfunction back then that required them to have to look at something like the delegation bylaw. But the reality is it looks like it has been abused. I’m sure the original attempt was not for it to be so.

I’m new so I still have to look for more information to find out its history and background. At the time it must have been something that was seen to be of value. But unfortunately have seen it get abused and because of that I believe that we have to look at doing things differently. We are elected as citizens of the community, to bring the voice of the community to the council chambers and ultimately to the direction of the city and policies where it is going.

However, it sounds like in the past that there has been either one or two politicians that have been sitting around council have colluded or worked with the CAO outside of the general council directions and/or issues around a CAO taking his own initiatives and running with them. That is not what he was hired to do. The community did not elect a council to be puppets; they wanted their voice to be brought to the table.

Do you have any further ideas on how to interact with the community?

Coffee and conversation. There will be some people who do not want to mix beer with politics. Personally, I think it is a good mix! But I could do coffee too. Also being available, people can send me an email and give me a phone call. I will listen and bring their concerns to the table. I believe I’m a solid listener. That is a skill that I continue to work upon.

What more do you think you have to bring to council, personality-wise?

Openness, honesty and integrity, it is really important. The effort to respect people, that everybody around that table has an equal voice.

Even the mayor?

Yes, a mayor is a leader. Their role is to be a part of the conversation and to direct the meeting. Not for their own benefit but for the benefit of the group. And that is something that I have not seen of late and I will do my darnedest to make sure that it is made known and supported around that table.

So teambuilding is a really a big part of what I am about. And that does not mean that we all will have to agree, because I recognize that is dysfunctional too. It does not create the important conversations that need to be had. But it does not need to get personal; it is not about the personalities around the table.

Do you have any ideas on how the teamwork can get better?

Make it a priority. When there is dysfunction in the room, it is important that everybody say something and not sit back and let it occur. It is acknowledged and we try to work with the individual or individuals that are responsible and contributing to it. We do not all have to be friends, but we all have to be nice. We have to respect that everybody is there to do the best job they can with the bodies they bring to that table.

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