Politicians are there to serve the people.
And, it just so happens in the Year of Our Lord 2018, those same people have the ability to connect with their political representatives far more frequently and on different avenues than ever before.
It used to be a phone call or a visit to their office was the only to get their attention. Then, came email and fax machines.
Now, social media has become the go-to way to get ahold of those who we’ve trusted to make the right decisions for us.
People can join the conversation, let municipalities know what they like or don’t like and question how things are being run.
However, the question inevitably becomes who is allowed to comment on a subject?
Is it just those who still live there currently or is it open to anybody?
It is a question former Corner Brook mayor Charles Pender has had to field with some of his social media activity in the last year.
Since losing his seat on council, the Alberta-based junior high teacher has used social media to keep track of what’s been going on at home during his time away.
As someone who lived his entire life in the west coast city, Twitter allows him to keep appraised of the issues as they arise in the city, albeit with a bit of a time difference.
Often when he is getting his hometown news in the evening, most people in Corner Brook are turning in for the night.
Since he started weighing in on provincial and city matters he’s been met with some criticism.
Given he lives out of province, his critics feel that robs him of the right to offer opinion on Newfoundland matters.
It is not an unusual response. It’s easy to dismiss someone whose opinion differs from yours by playing the location card.
You left, what does it matter to you what is going on?
Pender’s answer has been simple.
“I still own a house in Corner Brook and I pay taxes,” he said.
Most recently, Pender has offered pieces of council information when the city announced it would be constructing a splash pad at Margaret Bowater Park for a tidy $250,000.
The announcement was met with both applause and boos from both sides of the debate.
There were those who celebrated the much-called-for addition, while others from the city’s baseball group lamented it was being built at the expense of clubhouse replacement at Jubilee Field.
In the interest of fairness, the city announced in December 2017 that they had earmarked $500,000 for the new clubhouse while they waited for provincial and federal funding. On Oct. 1, the city voted to move ahead with an architectural design for the project.
Pender weighed on the issue via Twitter letting people know where his council stood on both the splash pad and the new clubhouse.
He received some emails on the subject and decided to give his opinion.
Everything he’s commented on and shared is a part of the public domain and its well within his right to do so.
He’s not trying to piss anyone off or angling for a return run at the mayor’s chair in a couple of years. Although, it certainly would appear that way.
“It’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Pender said.