While we may disagree with our council, we also agree with our council, and appreciate its members for stepping forward to serve our community
However, as a chamber, we must be professional. We will point out areas where we think mistakes are being made in policy and offer suggestions on how to fix them, or offer alternative ideas and solutions.
Our fellow citizens don’t want to see the chamber board or others using social media to hide in an attempt to trash council members they may not agree with, or have personal feelings exposed for public debate. There are council members I get along with regularly, and there are council members I frequently disagree with. However, after having been on a city council for three terms myself, I know it can be a thankless job. Fifty per cent of the people will like your decision and the other half will not.
But they are not paid enough to handle some of the virtual vitriol that is going on in our community. We can agree to disagree, but keep it professional. Be able to articulate your point in an email or a letter to the editor without making it personal.
As a business community, write to council when you have concerns, talk to the chamber to advocate for you, but after the decision has been made, consider a friendly invite to the council member that you disagreed with for a productive chat, in person or virtually, or simply pick up the phone.
If those in the community continue demonizing council on social media, then we will not have good people step forward to serve. When I talk to business people about why they don’t run for council, they point out some of the very negative websites and social media posts that are floating around Summerland.
I have strong opinions on what I think our businesses and overall community needs, but so do the council members who serve us. We need to support them and move on to the next topic or issue. When we all work together, we can have a Summerland that we all want.
Recently a council member who has an opposite opinion from mine pointed out that it’s not really the opposite, but a different way of looking at things. This council member pointed out that they and I want the same thing for Summerland; we simply have different ways of achieving, ultimately, the same goals. This is started a dialogue that I hope will continue; that’s all that we should ask for.
And the same goes for staff. I have the utmost respect for staff. I may dislike some of the interpretations, some of the rules, and I may strongly question the rules, but as I said in a recent meeting, just because I disagree does not mean that I have anything personal against them.
They’re doing the best job they can in challenging times, and I’m trying to do the best job that I can as your chamber president, as a business owner, and a Summerland resident.
When you think about sending that tweet, uploading that Instagram post, or posting on Facebook using harsh, derogatory, demeaning or abusive language, ask yourself if the person was sitting across from you sharing a cup of coffee, would you say the same things? If not, then delete it and thank yourself that you did.
We all can do better, and we all need to do better.
Ron Kubek, president
Summerland Chamber of Commerce
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