McKay drops gloves in bid for mayor’s job
Downer fires back after jab about his leadership skills
By Nicole Million Midland Mirror May 12 2010
MIDLAND – Gord McKay has come out swinging in his bid for mayor.
McKay, a Midland councillor for the past four years, threw down the gauntlet by calling out Mayor Jim Downer for alleged poor leadership.
“We are very poor at listening to people and really stopping and thinking about what they’re saying and playing it back to them and then making policy around those issues,” McKay told The Mirror on Tuesday, the day after officially entering the race. “My take is that this comes back to leadership.”
McKay said in order to successfully resolve any issue, it needs to be approached correctly from the beginning.
“We have very good people on council and very intelligent folks, but it’s how you put that team together and how that team does its job is really what’s at stake here. That’s what’s so important to me and what I hope I can do in the area of leadership.”
Downer rebutted the accusations, pointing to what he described as McKay’s habit of “backdooring” issues he is unable to get passed at the council table.
“He’s one to talk about a lack of leadership. Anything (he) can’t bring to the table and win, he goes out and backdoors it – that’s not leadership,” said Downer. “Being a member of council is part of an evolution. You have to learn what’s going on, listen.”
Both men acknowledged there is an obvious divide on the current council, though neither would shoulder the blame.
“We’re a team and we have to work together. It’s no secret we’ve had some counselling sessions ourselves to learn to work together,” McKay said. “We do not work as a team, and on that basis alone we are not the most effective organization.”
Downer, however, said it’s McKay who is part of the cause of the divide.
“You have to learn how to work with eight people, not individually,” he said. “It’s a nine-member team and, unless you’re part of that nine-member team, you’re in the wrong business.
“I didn’t cause the problems on council – I came to council and I’ve always had an open mind and been able to work with people. I’ve lost a lot of items at the table, (but) I’ve learned how to fight another day.”
McKay said his experience working for a variety of organizations, including the Department of National Defence, proves he has the type of leadership Midland residents want.
“Engagement and listening to people and making them part of the solution,” he said. “That’s the style of leadership that’s needed in this town. It’s not what I am seeing at the table now.”
Despite the acrimonious start, both men said they are looking forward to the upcoming campaign and the Oct. 25 vote.
“What I hope will happen in this campaign is Mayor Downer and myself will both put forward our best statements as to what we’re capable of doing and have the people make an honest choice,” said McKay.
As for Downer, he said McKay’s accusation that he is a poor leader is “a real shot.”
“I’ve brought this town through some very difficult times, along with other members of council, staff, etc.,” he said. “If I’m a poor leader, the people of Midland will tell me I’m a poor leader at election time.”