PHOTOS: St. Albert City Council. From left to right: Bob Russell, Sheena Hughes, Tim Osborne, Nolan Crouse, Wes Brodhead, Cam MacKay and Cathy Heron (City of St. Albert photo). Below: A few shots from the author’s personal collection, which includes Mayor Crouse at one of the many community events he also goes to, Cam MacKay, and Sheena Hughes.
ST. ALBERT, Alberta
Love the guy or hate him, no one in the Edmonton-area bedroom community of St. Albert will be surprised to learn that Mayor Nolan Crouse not only signed up to attend more scheduled meetings than anyone else on City Council, but has a better attendance record than all other councillors for all the meetings he agreed to attend.
Mr. Crouse had 427 scheduled meetings in the 36 months before Oct. 31 this year. He made it to 426 of them, which if you’re in a mood to crunch numbers comes out to a 99.8-per-cent attendance record. That’s as close as you can get to perfect without your attendance being, well, perfect.
Crunching the same numbers for the rest of Council – all of which are available to the public on the city of St. Albert website – the worst attendance record by percentage belongs to Councillor Bob Russell, who signed up to attend 115 meetings after his by-election victory in June 2015 and made it to only 87 of them. That gives Mr. Russell an attendance record of 75.7 per cent.
Indeed, as an aside, it’s interesting to note that the three worst attendance rates on council belong to Mayor Crouse’s three harshest critics. We’ll get to the details in a moment. But first, a necessary digression …
Just saying this is going to make a certain number of people in St. Albert angry. They’re sure to point out that there are good reasons why some city councillors may have better attendance records than others. Mr. Crouse, for example, is the only one who technically has a full-time job.
On the other hand, while Mr. Russell’s attendance record is pretty poor in my estimation, at 85 years of age, while he doesn’t have to worry about holding down another job, he may have legitimate reasons.
Likewise, I understand that not all meetings are created equal in the attention the public pays to their work. When I sat on a St. Albert city committee as a community volunteer, I can tell you that one councillor, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, often turned up late, asked for one or two items of personal interest to be moved up the agenda, and was out the door as soon as they were dealt with. That got counted in the minutes, though, as full attendance.
So today I’m just going to offer readers some statistics that conveniently appear in a public place, and leave it to the city councillors with the worst records to explain their reasons – if they feel like it. This is just one citizen’s blog, after all. No one has a legal obligation to say anything.
Still, if you ask me, with a municipal election coming down the pike on Oct. 16, 2017, this is relevant information. (For the record, since the question is certain to be asked, no, I will not be running again.)
To be clear, these numbers include only official scheduled meetings, not the myriad community events that some council members, like the mayor, reliably attend … and others don’t.
It’s worth noting that all councillors serving full terms were scheduled in the time frame to attend to attend 205 meetings (85 in the case of Mr. Russell) that are required by policy or by vote. These include Council itself, Council’s Standing Committee of the Whole, the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Inter-municipal Affairs Committee.
Councillors have some control, however, over the number of other committee meetings they sign up for. So while Mayor Crouse signed up for 222 such meetings, Councillor Cam MacKay signed up for only 57, the lowest number among full-term councilors.
Even so, Mr. MacKay’s attendance record was the second worst on City Council. Councillor MacKay signed on to attend 262 meetings, and made it to 207 of them – a 79-per-cent attendance record.
So here they are, the attendance records of St. Albert’s sitting city councilors, from best to worst in percentage terms, without further elaboration:
Councillor Meetings Attended Absent % Attended
Nolan Crouse 427 426 1 99.8%
Cathy Heron 359 343 16 95.5%
Wes Brodhead 371 351 20 94.6%
Tim Osborne 314 284 30 90.4%
Sheena Hughes 337 302 35 89.6%
Cam MacKay 262 207 55 79.0%
Bob Russell 115 87 28 75.7%
Do with this information what you will.