Municipal administrators work at the crossroads of management and politics.  Their job is a delicate balance between the formal and informal influences that shape decision-making; between the political and non-political relationships inherent in municipal activities. 

Recognizing the importance of political understanding in the role of senior municipal administrators, also referred to as political acumen, the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) has launched a Political Acumen Toolkit.  In addition to the Toolkit, which was created by the CAMA Political Acumen Committee, a Mentorship Forum has also been introduced to connect members across the country.

The toolkit is available by visiting politicalacumen.camacam.ca. Interested individuals can also connect with the Mentorship Forum by visiting mentorship.camacam.ca.

The Toolkit offers information that clarifies roles and responsibilities with governance, supports relationship-building at all levels, encourages situational and self-awareness in municipal leaders, helps manage personal risks, and furthers effective communication and stakeholder engagement.

It provides definitions, sub-topics, downloadable resources, links to additional materials, and is fully searchable.  To allow users to navigate the material easily, the Toolkit has been divided into several categories, including:  Introduction, Administration & Council, Residents and Ratepayers, Intermunicipal, Provincial & Federal, Media, Mentorship, Case Studies, Mentorship Forum, and References & Additional Resources.

The related Mentorship Forum was developed in tandem with the Toolkit to encourage and facilitate the relationship between experienced and new leaders, as well as support succession planning in local government.  It is a resource for connecting with other CAMA members, finding mentors, obtaining support from colleagues across the country, and discussing municipal issues at a pan-Canadian level.

CAOs operate in a unique position and because of their role they sometimes feel isolated and don’t know where to turn to support when facing challenging or even overwhelming situations.  CAMA hopes this toolkit will become a valuable resource to support senior administrators in their careers, and that the mentorship forum will provide a practical way for CAMA members to connect and support one another.

The Committee made every effort to reflect the nuances of different government bodies and their requirements across the country.  However, it is always important to check local legislation, regulations and bylaws to be aware of the requirements for each subject matter area in each province or territory.

Got questions?  Want more information?  Contact Jennifer Goodine, Executive Director, CAMA National Office, 1-866-771-2262,admin@camacam.ca.