For most Castlegar City Council meetings the situation is kind of like that of a loner in a limo. The expansive and comfortable space known as the Community Forum offers ample elbow room. There’s usually lots of room left over after council, staff and media are seated and ready to deal with the current agenda.
The area reserved for the public is often inhabited by just one or two onlookers, and if there’s just one he is probably a man named Rudiger Clauss. Cord Lafond likes to attend as well.
Mr. Clauss is the kind of citizen a lot of politicians say they wish there were more of: someone with a genuine interest in civic affairs plus the energy and initiative to actually attend the meetings.
“I want to show the city council and the mayor that there’s a different opinion out there,” says Clauss, who has been somewhat of a fixture at these functions for the past six years or so. He says he began his faithful attendance as he was involved in the advancement of better lights for pedestrian crossings. This was a case where he made a difference, something he felt pretty good about. He has since spoken out on a great number of issues, and has even been asked by some less confident neighbours to speak on their behalf.
In terms of preparation he just scans the agenda when he arrives, then does a lot of careful listening. If he’s inspired to speak out, he does just that.
When he pipes up his message is consistently eloquent… tactful but direct.
People like Rudiger Clauss and Cord Lafond deserve our thanks for ensuring our elected representatives stay on their toes, and don’t try to take any meetings off.