Work hard, keep your integrity and remember that you can’t please everyone all the time.
Those adages are grist that can be universally applied to any walk of life.
But they are especially applicable to those who serve in public office, city councillor Cindy Solda said.
Solda has served on city council for more than 10 years and every year is different.
“Every year is a learning experience and I enjoy it,” Solda said.
The married mother of three was born in Edmonton, Alta. and came to Port Alberni with her parents and five siblings when she was in Grade 4.
Her earliest childhood memories involve work – hard work.
“My father is Ukrainian and was raised on hard work,” she said.
“He believed that’s what families should do – work hard.”
Most kids looked forward to spring break, but she and her siblings didn’t.
“For other kids it meant time off of school but for us it meant work,” she said.
“It instilled a good work ethic though, and we learned a lot of great skills.”
She attended Gill Elementary, AW Neill and Alberni District Secondary School, where she graduated in 1976.
Solda remembers the teacher who taught her how to tell time and the one who was strict.
But she came to respect social studies teacher Ben Potter the most.
“He was such a nice man, so I came to really regret the one time that I was rude to him,” she said.
Solda had a flair for theatre in high school, and she went on to pursue the vocation first at the former Malaspina University-College then the University of Victoria.
Not getting the part of a witch once still stands out.
“I was told that I was too nice for the part,” she said.
“Ask my kids that today and they would say differently.”
Solda wanted to be a nun, an actress, a race car driver and a nurse.
But she eventually fell into civic politics in 2001 at the prompting by friend and former NDP MLA Gerard Janssen.
“I never expected to win but I did,” she said.
She’s served with three different mayors and several different councillors.
Just when you think you’ve learned the ropes, more ropes present themselves, she said.
“You never expect to be re-elected – it’s not a given,” Solda said.
The memory that sticks out the most is the man she helped advocate for who was having problems with his property assessment.
“It involved something outside of our jurisdiction but he hardly spoke English and needed help,” she said.
She walked the man through the process, and his issue was eventually resolved.
“The way he felt when it was over, that’s what being a public official is all about — helping someone out who needs it,” she said.
The only female on the seven-member council, Solda says she holds her own and her gender has thus not been an issue.
Nevertheless, her presence alone might help open a door.
“Maybe that’s just the thing that inspires another woman to run,” she said.
Being a city councillor is challenging at the best of times.
Councillors are condemned to a political limbo where you’re damned no matter what you do or don’t do.
“I wish I could give everyone everything they ask for,” Solda said.
“But you just cannot please all of the people all of the time.”
Through it all – good and difficult – Solda has held true to what has been the best political advice she’s been given to date.
“It was Donna Brett who told me ‘keep your integrity’ and I have,” Solda said.
An avid reader, Solda likes the history and romance genres.
A director, she spends a lot of time reading scripts and is reading Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf right now.
She doesn’t get to movies as often as she’d like, but she counts The Sound of Music and The King and I as among her favourites.
But Jesus Christ Superstar – which she saw several times and eventually directed – holds a special place for her.
“I must have saw it 10-12 times when it first came out,” she said.
“It had everything a production should have and was way ahead of its time.”
If she could visit any other period of time in history it would be the Great Depression.
“The elderly have seen wars and the Depression – our hard times are nothing compared to what they went through,” Solda aid.
“We don’t know how good we have today and I’d like to see the flip side of that,” she said.