Sunday, July 23, 2017

Some thoughts for the New Council

The elections are over and we finally have the full council seated and I think we have some great people on council. Still, this is basically a new City Council. Lucy Gonzales now has the longest current service with just over 2 years and Tommy Hiebert has the most council experience, having served 6 years in the early 1990’s. The majority of the council is just starting to learn the job.

There will be an adjustment period as the council and city hall culture come to grips with each other. They will both be changed. This is challenging enough but is made even more challenging because we are also in the middle of the budget cycle. New council members have to hit the ground running and deal with policies and decisions handed down by their predecessors. The draft budget online currently sits at 42 pages. By the end of September that will grow to over 300 pages of dry, boring tables and numbers and descriptions. They will have to rely on city staff and staff will do the bulk of the leg work on the budget. At the same time they will have to deal with all the little (and not so little) issues and problems that make a council persons life uniquely interesting. And they will have to learn who and what they can trust, and build that trust both inside and outside City Hall.
Most of the councils job will be balancing the wants, needs, and goals of City Hall with the community that is the City of San Angelo. The community needs to economically strong and healthy. City hall should be frugal and efficient. The community needs to grow and thrive and be livable and be a community. City hall needs to be able to support and sustain the changes that happen within the city. The city as a whole needs to be resilient. It needs to be able to adapt to those unknown events that can break a fragile community. 
City council and city hall can’t do that on their own but they have to do their part and they have to keep these broad, but seldom stated, goals in their focus. All of these goals and objectives need to be balanced so that a healthy community can be passed on to future generations. San Angelo sprang up shortly after Ft. Concho was established roughly 150 years ago. It would be wonderful if in another 150 years our descendants were living here in a prosperous, comfortable thriving community, and this is not some archaeological site where college students are busy writing papers on what went wrong.
I will expand on these thoughts more in the future. For now, I just want to welcome the new (and not quite as new) members to the city council. You’re in for quite a ride. Good luck. You’ll need it.

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