Entering a New World
After my first day working in Councillor Joe Horneck’s office, I was introduced to how politicians and their staff run the city. Many things struck me as a resident entering the world of politics I had never thought of before.
The first thing I learned that day was the most fascinating. People often characterise politicians as taking summers off. The actual situation, however, is that politicians use their summers to do more constituency work, attend community meetings, and prepare for the fall, where they begin one of the most significant parts of their job – budgeting! Politicians may use this time as an opportunity to take a vacation. Even during this “recess” period, politicians must always be available for any emergency. In this case, an emergency meeting is called, and politicians meet immediately. I found this interesting because, like many others, I believed that politicians were all given time off during the summer, much like many of us think of teachers as doing. Politicians are constantly working to help run a city, a province, and a country.
More than Meets the Eye
As the afternoon rolled around, I had the opportunity to have lunch with my colleagues, staff from neighbouring wards, and two councillors. The conversations between the councillors and their staff gave me an insider look into what politicians are thinking about and what their jobs entail. Councillor Horneck, for instance, was discussing the changes in the colour of the MiWay express buses, as the colour change has increased confusion for residents over time. When the city first introduced express routes that would stop at only a select number of stops, they needed a colour change to distinguish between the buses. Over time, route demand changes, such as that were brought upon by the pandemic, made it difficult for individuals to get around. The confusion is mainly because express buses meant for express routes will be placed on regular routes, confusing for individuals who need to get off at a particular stop.
For this reason, the transit committee and council reviewed a staff recommendation to change the colours of the buses. I learned that municipal governments spend much time dealing with issues that are most noticeable to residents, like bus colours. Interestingly, issues that strike residents of an area are those that are visible and noticeable, issues that directly affect their day-to-day lives.
Additionally, Councillor Tedjo’s discussion on the duplication of Ontario’s school systems made me wonder about the issue on a provincial level. The discussion also made me think about issues between schools and the city. For example, the question of whether school fields and playgrounds are open to the city after school hours.
Throughout the day, I noticed that my colleagues receive calls from residents about issues that directly affect them. A significant portion of a politician’s job is tending to various issues people have in the city. People are generally civil; however, sometimes, people call about issues they feel strongly about directly affecting them. A politician’s job is to do everything they can to tend to these issues. However, there are some problems that the city cannot solve on their own.
My first day working in Councillor Joe Horneck’s office provided me with valuable insights into the world of politics. I witnessed firsthand the dedication of my colleagues in tending to the concerns of constituents, highlighting the significant role of politicians in addressing community issues. I learned that bureaucracy and politics are much more complicated than I had anticipated, and the job requires more complex thinking than I had thought.