A Tribute to Dominic Mishio and the City of Leduc, Alberta: How to Win an Election based on Genuine Wealth

A Tribute to Dominic Mishio and the City of Leduc:
How to win an Election based on a Genuine Wealth Approach to Governance

“ The genuine wealth assessment for the City of Leduc is the document that guides our strategic plan. Our priorities are examined by their impact on our capital accounts…The genuine-wealth assessment has broadened the view of council to look at the impact of our decisions in many different ways in the community. Decisions are no longer viewed based just on their financial impact.

— Dominic Mishio
Alderman and Deputy Mayor (2007-2013)
City of Leduc

Six Years of Genuine Wealth in Leduc (PDF copy of this paper)

Albertans are about to elect a new municipal council of mayor and counsellors on Monday October 21, 2013.

Over the last 7 years I have had the pleasure of being a mentor to my colleague and friend, Dominic Mishio, City of Leduc alderman and deputy mayor (2007-2013).

Dominic first met me at one of the famous Leduc-Nisku Economic Development Authority breakfast meetings in 2006, where he first learned about the Leduc Genuine Wealth (well-being) assessment I was leading for the City of Leduc. At that time Leduc had a population of 16,000 people; today Leduc has over 26,000 people.

Dominic was only 21 at the time I met him. He was so inspired by the Genuine Wealth project that he decided to run for Leduc City Council. He was elected in 2007 as the youngest elected official in Alberta at the age of 22, coming in third place overall amongst the aldermanic candidates. Dominic was also inspired by my quotation of Robert Kennedy who in 1968 critiqued the Gross National Product (now the GDP) as a measure of progress that failed to ‘measure that which makes life worthwhile’ while measuring all the money flows in the economy. Turns out Kennedy is Dominic’s political hero.

What was unique about Dominic’s political campaign is that he adopted a Genuine Wealth approach to his campaign. Using the results of the Genuine Wealth assessment I completed for the City of Leduc and Leduc County in 2006, Dominic went door to door asking people ‘what matters most to you and your quality of life?’ How can we improve the overall well-being of your life and our community? What are your dreams and aspirations for a better life?

Dominic was using his campaign season to ‘listen’ to the needs and dreams of all households in Leduc. I call the election period the ‘listening season;’ the time we check in with our neighbours about their quality of life, their needs and aspirations for a better life.

Dominic had adopted the very spirit of the genuine wealth model I have developing over the years. My main motivation for building this new model for governance was to have a practical way of measuring what matters most to citizen’s quality of life, to guide planning and budget decisions with a ‘well-being’  impact bottom-line perspective, and to help build a new economic development model based on well-being and happiness (not simply more growth).

Since 2007 Dominic has served two successive terms with the City of Leduc and has been a tireless champion of genuine wealth thinking and logic. Dominic looked at all planning and budgeting decisions by asking ‘what will the well-being impact be of this decision to our economy, community and the environment?’  By keeping this question in play meant that his colleagues on counsel and administration were required to address the well-being impact question with quantitative data along with good-old ‘gut feelings’ about whether any decision would have a qualitative impact on well-being.

At the young age of 28, Dominic is retiring from politics (for now) moving on to take on his new challenge as director of the Global Poverty Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Don Iveson (middle) and Dominic Mishio (right)

Challenging all Municipal Leaders in Alberta to Adopt a Genuine Wealth Approach to Governance

A new generation of municipal leaders in Alberta is emerging. Young leaders like Don Iveson (Edmonton), Naheed Nenshi (Calgary) and Dominic Mishio are providing a refreshing new approach to politics and civic governance. Is this the time for a new economic development model based on genuine wealth and well-being?

Over 3 years ago, just after the last municipal election, I was introduced to an urban sustainability forum by newly-elected Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. In his introduction to me, he noted that ‘one of the books I was told to read before becoming mayor was Mark’s book, The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth.’ I was stunned and pleased that he considered my book, amongst others such as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, to have informed his decision to run for elected office.

Time for an Economy of Well-being for Alberta’s Towns and Cities.

It’s time for a new economic vision for our province and our communities. I believe this new vision should be founded on well-being. I believe that Genuine Wealth, as a model and concept of governance can be the practical tool by which all municipalities in Alberta can ensure that the conditions of well-being for all citizens can be ensured.

The Cities of Leduc, Edmonton and Olds are three examples of how new well-being measures of progress are being adopted to guide decision making and budgets.

I believe it is possible to redesign our planning and budgeting processes that ensures the highest and best use of our shared community assets. Empowering each of us to make the best.

Imagine if every community were able to celebrate the strengths of its unique assets with a Well-Being Index and genuine wealth ‘balance sheet,’ such as Leduc did in 2006.

Imagine if citizens were asked about their perceptions of their personal financial and material wealth, their health, their relationships with family, friends and neighbours, and their happiness. The Town of Olds just did with their first genuine wealth assessment completed this May 2013.

Olds (Alberta) Wellbeing Index

The Genuine Wealth model was specifically designed to help communities evaluate their well-being conditions and economic progress what the word wealth that she means in the old English. The indicators of progress must ultimately aligned with what citizens most value about their quality of life. This is what the Genuine Wealth assessment delivers: a system of well-being measurement that is the basis of local governance and decision-making.

Dominic Mishio: A Genuine Wealth Politician

Dominic Mishio understands that wise governance required comprehensive well-being indicators to ensure the optimum returns to well-being from taxes.

Dominic Mishio, believes “That having the pulse of the community’s values is the most important thing to have in mind when considering decisions of all kinds at the city level.”

Dominic understands that measuring progress based on a broader and integrated suite of well-being measures constitutes wise governance similar to what Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle counseled for Greece in their day.

Dominic, studied the work of these Greek philosophers as part of his Political Science degree from the University of Alberta. One of his favourite quotes is from Pericles who noted “If Athens shall appear great to you, consider then that her glories were purchased by valiant men, and by men who learned their duty.” His other favourite quote is from Archimedes who said ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Dominic notes: “I believe that Genuine Wealth is that lever and the City of Leduc is that fulcrum.”

He goes on to note: “I believe, as an elected official, one of our greatest duties is to demonstrate to citizens value for tax dollars. I believe that measuring WROI is the new frontierThere is no thing more valuable than have strong analytics around the value gained by government expenditures.”

Dominic, is amongst a new generation of young charismatic political leaders that I believe will steer our economies to towards a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness.

Building the New Economy of Well-being

Leduc has demonstrated that it is possible to develop this new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness using the genuine wealth assessment tool. This community continues to lead the country and the world as a model for a well-being economy. It will continue to leverage its most important assets in ways people at social networks and its natural assets including abundant land for growing food. Mayor and Council understand that the most important value proposition for citizens is demonstrating that there is a real return to well-being from their taxes.

Dominic Mishio believe that “The future will be one where we will measure, value, manage and prioritize that which makes life most worthwhile.”

Good luck Dominic on your new adventures and may our province be blessed with a new generation of wise leadership.

About Mark Anielski

I am an economic strategist and the author of the Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth, a book that provides a roadmap to the new economy of well-being and a life of purpose and meaning.
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