In the first analysis of the 2018-2022 Council data, this post will examine how Members of Council performed in attending meetings. As representatives of their Ward residents, or in the case of the Mayor all residents of Grimsby, meeting attendance is one the most basic but important requirements of any elected official.
Data was sourced from the Official Minutes of meetings available at the Town’s “DocumentCenter” and the recording of the last Council meeting, for which minutes are not yet available. Best efforts were made to validate and ensure the integrity of the dataset, but there is always the chance for errors whether it be in the original recorded minutes or the input of data into the database. Therefore, the data is believed to be accurate with a less than 2% margin of error and reflects Town records as of September 25, 2022.
Council/Committee of the Whole Attendance
185 sets of minutes of meetings of Council, Special Council and Committee of the Whole meetings were counted for the 2018-2022 term of Council. Data for Councillor Bothwell ends where she left office in June and Councillor DiFlavio was not included as he was appointed near the end of the term.
Note: Tables are sortable by clicking on the columns.
Mayor Jordan tops the Council/Committee of the Whole attendance charts missing only 2 out of 185 meetings. Jordan’s Mayoral competitor, Councillor Dunstall, missed nine times as many of these meetings and lands at the bottom of the list missing 18 of those meetings. In between those two rankings from best attended to least attended are Councillors Kadwell/Sharpe, Vardy, Bothwell, Freake, and Ritchie/Vaine.
When considering Ward representation, Ward 2 (Kadwell/Vardy) Councillors had the most representation at Council/COTW meetings, followed by Ward 4 (Bothwell/Sharpe) and Ward 1 (Freake/Ritchie). Ward 3 (Dunstall/Vaine) had the weakest showing. When residents put up signs last year asking “Who Speaks For The People of Ward 3?”, the data shows some of their concerns were valid.
Standing & Other Committees
The database contains all the attendance data from the Town’s previous Standing (Admin & Finance, Rec Services, Planning & Development & Public Works) and Other (Art Gallery, Library, etc.) before the Committee of the Whole was implemented. However this data would be skewed when analyzed due to several resignations and one Councillor refusing his appointments at the 2018 Inaugural meeting.
COTW Planning Public Meetings
The move towards Committee of the Whole was premised on the ability for all Council members to be present and fully hear matters to be voted on, this included the Public Meetings formerly handled by the Planning & Development Committee. Attendance at these meetings is important as it is one of the few opportunities where residents get to express their concerns/comments or questions on development applications to Council before their elected representatives vote on the applications.
There was a number of meetings where minutes were missing and it was impossible to transcribe attendance based on the YouTube recordings where some Members of Council would not appear on screen or turned their video off. But for the instances for which there are minutes, it should give a rather general snapshot of attendance for these important statutory Public Meetings.
For the COTW Planning meetings, the Mayor slips into second spot, tied with Councillor Bothwell missing one meeting each. Councillors Freake, Kadwell and Vardy had perfect attendance and Councillor Vaine and Dunstall round out the bottom of the list. Once again Ward 2 (Kadwell/Vardy) had the most representation and Ward 3 (Dunstall/Vaine) was the least represented Ward at the Public Meetings according to Official Minutes.
A question to ponder… If Councillors are not showing up to listen to the residents at these meetings, how are they able to fully consider public input when voting on important planning matters?
The data shows some interesting patterns both from a Member of Council and Ward perspective. Ward 2 had the best representative attendance and Ward 3, the worst. The most ironic data comes from the two Mayoral candidates, Jordan and Dunstall, with the former having near perfect attendance and the latter the poorest attendance… while having a campaign promise to be a “Full Time Mayor”.
Attendance is an important consideration when deciding to elect/re-elect candidates, but it is not the only factor. Up next we will start to take a look at how votes transpired in the 2018-2022 term of Council, who voted for what and with whom.