There’s only a week left until the municipal election here in Lethbridge, so this morning I figured it was high time I buckled down and finally choose someone to publicly support for mayor.
I knew right off the bat that it wouldn’t be Rajko Dodic. He has accused me of being partisan, and has done nothing to engage me as a voter, certainly not like Kay Adeniyi, James Frey, and Cheryl Meheden have. In addition, Dodic has shown in the forums that his solution to dealing with criticism and conflict is to either deny any issue exists or tear down the person criticizing. Besides, despite his claim to have experience, Dodic has never been mayor.
I don’t think Dennis Carrier or Adeniyi are solid candidates. Both of them fall apart at the forums and don’t have concrete solutions when asked difficult questions. Adeniyi has some great ideas, but he lacks real experience. That being said, he can be a solid candidate in the future if he works on getting more involved in the community and doing more thorough research on the issues.
Frankly, when it comes down to it, I have struggled between Frey and Meheden. This isn’t surprising really, since I originally had been helping them on their campaigns.
So, why did I end up choosing Meheden over Frey?
Last Tuesday, at the all-candidate forum at the Lethbridge Shelter and Resource Centre, when mayoral candidates were asked why they feel they are qualified for the job, Meheden said she was a PhD candidate in leadership. Because we have been quasi-following the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophy in homeschooling our children, this comment really caught my attention.
I decided to email her to get her to elaborate on this brief statement. Here’s what I learned from her response.
Meheden chose Walden University because of its focus on social responsibility. Such a focus encourages its graduates to ensure they contribute positively to society rather than simply going into the world to make lots of money. Her PhD has required her to extensively research leadership models and practices from a wide array of situations, understand their theoretical base, and apply them in her life.
A new mayor needs to be more than someone who can tell everyone how wonderful Lethbridge is. A new mayor needs to be more than someone who can rein in any dissenters in council. A new mayor needs to be a leader.
Meheden knows how to lead and has a lot of experience being a leader.
Something else that has impressed me about Meheden is her commitment to volunteerism. At the mayoral forum Friday night, she answered a question about her experience to lead the city by mentioning the thousands of hours of community service she has put into Lethbridge. When she has been asked as a mayoral candidate to attend an event by its organizers, she claimed she always asks what she can do to help out at the event. Many aldermanic and mayoral candidates are only concerned about politicking at public events, and seeing someone who would rather volunteer than hobnob really impressed me.
She has even opened her home to shelter young girls in need as part of a programme through the YWCA. She not only attends SACPA events, she has a SACPA membership. She not only comes out to London Road Neighbourhood events, she has an LRNA membership. She is someone who walks the talk.
I was talking with someone at church yesterday about the mayoral race, and she said she had decided on Carrier for mayor because he has business experience. As I thought about this yesterday, I realized Meheden also brings business experience to the table. In fact, she brings quite the variety of experience to the table. She ran her own business and saw it double its revenues every year for five years. She has taught at university, and chaired the School of Business at the Lethbridge College. She has served on the board of Economic Development Lethbridge for several years.
I have known Meheden for several years, and the thing I like the most about her campaign is that she is still the same. She is authentic. I have never felt like she is pandering to garner my vote. She has been just as approachable for me during this election as she ever was. As well, she is humble, easily admits when she is wrong. With Meheden, what you see is what you get.
So, in short, I am voting for Cheryl Meheden because she is a true leader, a committed volunteer, an experienced businessperson and educator, and an authentic person. And it doesn’t hurt that she takes the bus to work.
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