Mayoral candidate Bill Smith, on the challenges facing Calgary
'The way you treat people is the only legacy you have'
Editor's Note: As part of our coverage for the Oct. 16 civic election, CBC Calgary has offered each candidate for the office of mayor the opportunity to write up to 700 words on our website, outlining what they believe to be the greatest challenges facing our city, and what they would do about those challenges if elected. These articles are run as submitted — edited only to meet CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices. This article is part of that series. The CBC's primary goal through our election coverage is to provide citizens with the information they need to make an informed decision on polling day.
People ask me all the time why I'm running for Mayor. In 2005, my mother was killed in a pedestrian accident. She was such a beautiful, giving person. The community response to her shocking death made me realize the positive impact you can have on other people's lives whether you realize it or not. The way you treat people is the only legacy you have.
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Like my mother, I'm devoted to community. I started out as firefighter, and worked full time while I went to law school and raised four kids with my wife Mary. When I started my law practice, I saw how people felt taken advantage of by their lawyers, and how much they hated the traditional approach to doing law. So, I built a different model, and offered lower-cost, fixed fees to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
I'm wired to help people and to get creative when I see a need. Right now, I see a need for a change in leadership in the Mayor's office. And I've got what it takes to help.
There are at least two ways I can help.
Make Calgary Canada's most business-friendly city
There was a time where Calgary was the place where anyone who wanted to could work hard and succeed. That's not the case anymore. Being a business owner is an uphill battle. My own business taxes have gone up 70% over the last seven years. I hear complaints about how hard it is to expand or set up business in the city because of cumbersome regulations and applications that take too long for approval. I get why people are saying we've had enough. We simply can't afford to have our current Mayor anymore.
But we can make Calgary Canada's most business-friendly city through fairer taxation and efficient regulation that helps us grow. Rein in taxes. Freeze salaries starting at the top. Work with front-line workers to find efficiencies. Think about more creative ways to deliver services while reducing costs. And care enough to listen to voters about how to spend our dollars on what matters most to us — not what we're told should matter most.
Provide relational leadership
In my world, people always come first. When you treat people with respect, you get things done. We need a mayor who cares enough to create a team-culture, is willing to listen to community feedback, and keeps his word. Council relationships are so bad, they had to call in an ethics advisor and integrity commissioner because they couldn't govern themselves professionally and ethically. That's not fair to Calgarians.
Leadership and teamwork are the ways to create a more energized and effective administration. It's easy to make cuts. It's much harder to encourage creative thinking that would make our city operate better. There are endless opportunities to improve service. To find efficiencies. To create new partnerships. To guarantee response times for applications. I'm not pointing a finger at city workers. I used to be one. And I knew which regulations made sense and which didn't. Let's let front-line people tell us what should stay and what should go. We just have to be willing to be creative and collaborative, and I can do both.
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The same thinking applies to the new arena. I love the Flames, and I want to keep them in Calgary — without giving away the farm. Other cities have done it. I brokered a similar deal at McMahon Stadium. But nothing will happen unless we establish collaborative relationships between the team and city administration.
I've lived in this city my whole life. I love the people of Calgary. And I've really enjoyed getting to meet so many new friends during the campaign. I know we have what it takes to face these challenges together. The first step is to restore trust and respect within the Mayor's office, and to elect someone who cares enough to create a team-culture, inside and outside of City Hall. If we can do that, our future will be many times brighter than our past.
And that's the legacy I want to have.