Friday, May 22, 2009

City Council, No easy Task. Informative info from Michael Bates

In response to a post to this blog, I must state that this is for informational purposes and I find it quite interesting. Therefore, in good faith and respect this could be used by any voter....

Why run for City Council?

Most people who hear I'm running for city council congratulate me, or thank me for my willingness to serve. Others -- close friends, mostly -- ask, "Why in the world would you want to be a city councilor? Do you need the aggravation? Why do you want to join that useless, bickering bunch?"

My answer: I want to be a city councilor because the city council matters to our city's quality of life and its future. I am running because I believe that with my skills, knowledge, and experience I can promote quality of life, and I can help the council become more effective in doing its job, to the benefit of all its citizens.

Some would say that the city council was created as mere window-dressing, a means to avoid a civil rights lawsuit. The real power rests in the Mayor's office, they would say, and the council isn't meant to do much besides act as a rubber-stamp. Many voters may be tempted to give all their attention to the next mayoral race, while ignoring the candidates for city council.

The Council matters

But when you've gone down to City Hall for committee meetings and city council meetings, as I have, and talked to councilors and citizens who come to address the council on some matter, you realize that the city council has an impact on quality of life, and it has the potential to become an even greater asset to the city.

The council performs three crucial functions that no other body can perform: representation, legislation, and oversight. If it fails to fill these roles adequately, Tulsa loses.

Representing Tulsa's diversity

The nine city councilors bring nine more perspectives to the table. More than that, in the course of an election, a city councilor speaks to thousands of citizens and hears their concerns and ideas. The new Mayor would be wise to look to the councilors as valuable partners in city government, not rivals.

By speaking for his constituents' interests, a city councilor bridges the gap between City Hall and the parts of the city that feel disenfranchised. A city councilor helps ensure that Tulsa's diversity is represented throughout city government, by taking an active role in setting city priorities, ensuring that our plans for the future will benefit each an every citizen.
A city councilor must remember that he is there to represent every citizens interests at City Hall. He is not an ambassador from City Hall to the citizens.

Setting the rules

The city council is not only a representative body, it is a law-making body. The council enacts rules which affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
The council frequently deals with zoning and land-use laws: changing the zoning on an individual piece of land, revising the Comprehensive Plan for an area, or general reform of the zoning laws.

A councilor needs to have a grasp of the complexities of the law, and an awareness of the risks and potential rewards of a change. The Law of Unintended Consequences is in full effect, and a bad decision can undermine years of hard work and thousands of dollars that homeowners and business owners have invested in their properties. A councilor must also be able to think "outside the box" -- willing to consider creative solutions to reach a win-win outcome for all concerned.

As a legislator, and not an executive, a councilor cannot act alone. A councilor must be able to build a professional relationship with his fellow councilors to reach the needed majority to pass an ordinance. To get things done for his city, a councilor must also be able to build support for his proposals in the community.

Keeping watch

Although the mayor is responsible for day-to-day operations, we need the city council to oversee the performance of city departments, to ensure that our essential city services are delivered efficiently and with excellence. To do its job, the council needs clear, complete information about expenditures and outcomes from every branch of city government. This same information needs to be made accessible to the public on the Internet.

To fulfill its oversight and legislative responsibilities, the council needs the independent resources and freedom of action to research issues and to evaluate the information it receives from the city administration. If we want a excellent, efficient government.

From time to time, exercising effective oversight means saying "no." A good council will cooperate with the mayor whenever possible, but some plans are wrong , and the council needs the guts to send them back to the drawing board.

How to build a better Council

More progress needs to be made. In this election, who ever is elected to the council will greatly affect the council's ability to fulfill its responsibilities.
As a voter in this election, get to know the candidates running for city council.

Ask questions!!!

Will the candidate be an effective advocate for your neighborhood's particular needs?

Does the candidate have the intelligence and experience to handle zoning and other legislative issues?

Is the candidate committed to a city council which asks tough questions and demands answers, a city council with the confidence to say "no" when it should?

Don't be shy about calling the candidates and asking tough questions of your own.

If you find a good candidate, vote for him, of course, but find other ways to help, too. Display a yard sign, publicly endorse him.

Your time and effort will be repaid with a city council that is ready to build a better city for all of us.

Usually during election time we see signs stating integrity, experience, qualified, etc., realizing that the candidates can only put favorable characteristics on their ads. I mean, who would advertise negatives, like "I'm dishonest, can't be trusted, a scoundrel, but vote for me anyway"? The only way we can get to know the real candidate, their attitudes, viewpoints, and prejudices too, is to ask the hard questions, and then wait for the answers. Voters should be able to hold their feet to the fire. We deserve a high caliber of elected officials, and we need to do a better job vetting them out.

When you ask candidates questions of great concern to you? If you get the deer in the headlights look, maybe that candidate doesn't know what's going on. And if the candidate tries to spin the answer, then don't let them get away with it, and ask it again, maybe this time with a different inflection .

Here's your chance to (1) elect a candidate that is going to represent you and (2) exercise a valuable right, the right to vote, so be prepared. The future is largely influenced by the attitudes and actions of the city council. No easy task, so let's not treat it as if it is just another election. You can make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. As a candidate, please don't plagiarize again.