2010 grade: C+
2009 grade: C+
2008 grade: C
2007 grade: C-

Bill Karsten understands what’s going on at council, and has opinions about things. This distinguishes him from his colleagues in the Dartmouth districts to the north and south (Fisher and Nicoll).

More, Karsten gets huge points for fighting tooth and nail against the proposal to downsize council---he understands that proposal will further remove constituents from their government, and ultimately give more power to unaccountable bureaucrats. He also was appropriately outraged that former CAO Dan English had used a loophole in city policies to award an $8 million contract for the Washmill underpass project without council approval, and Karsten quickly put together a way to close that loophole.

I wanted to give Karsten an even higher grade, but there’s something hanging in the air that needs to be addressed: his council demeanour. When other councillors speak and say things he disagrees with, Karsten sighs loudly, mutters disparaging comments, tries to get the mayor to intervene and so forth. It’s disruptive. And sadly, even before councillor Sue Uteck made the allegation before all of council, several council observers had told me they think Karsten’s outbursts are disproportionately directed at female councillors. It’s a hard thing to prove, but Karsten should be aware he’s being so judged.

How to improve: Passionate disagreement is praiseworthy, but understand that, right or wrong, other councillors were also elected by voters, and therefore deserve respect.

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