I have had a few people share some concerns regarding my communications assignment on the City Council. I would like to address those concerns here in case there are other residents who share them.
One concern expressed was that it appears I receive more information than others on the Council. This may be true as I’m not shy about seeking information when I have questions or concerns. The mayor has office hours every Thursday morning where he invites any resident, including council members, to stop by and discuss city issues. For most of my time on the Council I did not work outside of the home and my schedule allowed me to meet with the mayor during his office hours. The city manager attended these meetings the majority of the time as well. I used this opportunity to find out what was going on in the city, get answers to my questions, and give feedback. I feel that I am most effective on the Council when I am seeking information and staying up-to-date on city issues. For many months I took detailed notes, typed them up, and sent them to the rest of the Council so that everyone would have the same information I had. One council member complained about these notes multiple times. He expressed his complaints to the rest of the Council, stating I “wasn’t the mayor’s personal secretary” and that “one council member shouldn’t be updating the rest of the Council since we are all 1 of 5”. My intent with sending my notes was to address deficiencies with internal communication. I recognized that my schedule was more flexible than others and felt these updates would be helpful to the Council. However, continued complaints from the one council member, I decided to stop sending my notes in order to eliminate the contention it seemed to be causing. I have continued to reach out to the mayor, city manager, or whomever else I need to in order to get my questions answered and to best fulfill my council assignments. I feel it is my responsibility as a representative of our residents to continually research the issues facing our city. If reelected and if desired by the new Council, I would be happy to once again share my notes from any meeting I attend related to the city.
Another concern expressed was that I seem to always agree with the mayor. I haven’t always agreed with anyone on the council, including the mayor. The difference, as I see it, is that I prefer to contact my colleagues personally to discuss our disagreements instead of posting them to social media sites. I spend a considerable amount of time researching city issues and listening to resident feedback and I’m not afraid to speak my mind and push for what I feel our residents want. At the same time, I respect those with whom I serve and do not find it productive to engage in arguments through social media. We all signed up for this job with one thing in common, and that is to do our best to serve Cedar Hills.
Another claim was that I don’t really want to serve on the Council and am running again for the wrong reasons or that I’m burned out. I admit that dealing with much of the conflict that has been going on over the past few years is very difficult for me. Far too much time has been spent reacting to personal attacks instead of focusing on a vision for our city. That being said, I love serving our residents. I have enjoyed meeting many new people I wouldn’t have otherwise known and forming new friendships. One of my favorite times of the year is Family Festival when our community comes together as friends and neighbors. I volunteer at almost every event that week because, to me, that is what Cedar Hills is and why I live here. I enjoy serving with the residents who make up our many resident-driven committees and am impressed with all they accomplish. With regards to reelection, I had originally decided I wouldn’t run again, primarily because of the contention. Many residents reached out to me through email, phone, and in person and asked me to reconsider. I was humbled by their trust in me, and after discussing it at length with my family, I decided to run again. I do not have any desire to run for higher office, nor do I have any other agenda. My only reason for seeking reelection is to continue to serve the residents of Cedar Hills to the best of my ability.
Lastly, the concern was raised that I’m the only member of the Council allowed to communicate with residents. This is not true. When I was elected in 2011, I emailed former mayor Richardson with a list of ideas on how we could improve communication, one of these being a monthly “Council Corner” in the city newsletter. When Council assignments were made he asked me to take on communications, and when Mayor Gygi was elected he asked me to continue with that. I have spent the last 3.5 years working to implement those ideas. Each month I submit an article for the Council Corner. These articles have always been used to inform residents of things occurring in the city. I have never used it to promote my own views or personal agenda. In addition, every member of the Council is aware that they may submit an article for the newsletter at any time, and most of them have at one point or another. No member of the Council has ever been refused newsletter space. In addition to the newsletter, I choose to communicate with residents through social media, public forums, and through my personal blog. Every member of the Council has the same access to residents and I encourage all to communicate with residents in all ways they feel are most effective. One suggestion I have is that, as we move to paperless newsletters later this summer, each member of the Council submit to the city a short summary of a topic they want to address and a link to their personal blogs where the details will be. This way residents will have access to the views of all elected officials.
I hope this answers any questions that may have been raised about my communications assignment. As always, feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss further. Thank you!