I have been contemplating my three years on the Homer City Council. Looking at the council from the outside, we can make judgments about what we think we see, but it is important that we look from the inside out also. I want to share the important things have I learned.
We can not make people be kind or forgive. We cannot legislate moral issues. Our job on the council is to treat all equally by doing what is best for the city as a whole. When we cross over into social issues, our town loses its kindness to each other and friendships are broken over ideology and stereotype, not because of the way someone truly lives their lives. This is counterproductive to the peace and friendships we want in our town. It also has caused people to quit having open dialogue for fear of retaliation and loss of relationships. We need to change our talk back to working together for the end product, even though we come from different angles. Talking it through brings a whole product that is for the good of all, not just one segment of society.
Everything is about the process. Processes set up by prior administrations, the State of Alaska, and the Federal Government. As council you have to work within the rules/regulations of the law of the land besides our own policies and procedures, and chart a course that makes our city sustainable financially so our city can continue to provide the obligations and services we are required by law to do. Process doesn’t let government move quickly. Process is burdensome and costly in time and money. The process should protect all sides to make it fair to everyone. It’s hard when process doesn’t appear that way. It is important that we take the time to evaluate our policies and procedures to make sure they are applicable in 2020 not just in the past. We need to be able to have open dialogue and look forward to where we as a city are at and where we are moving forward to. We are not the city of 50,000 people that was forecasted years ago. Our policies should reflect more the reality of what our world is moving to, rather than away from.
It is good to have a balance and diverse council. We have found consensus in hard issues. Most have passed and some failed. Our decisions are not always predictable but I believe healthy. Some of our accomplishments are the Greatland extension that included sidewalks and bike lanes, updated lease policy, Ramp 2 bathroom, watershed property in the Land Trust, stable water sewer prices, worked very well together as we navigated the Enstar legal issues, the new police station, title 14 and 17 rewrite, deferred maintenance and equipment replacement, the HERC site is off dead center with a solution in sight, which all come from working together.
A two-year budget cycle, which should make the budget more transparent and understandable, is being worked on. This brings more strategic policy for financially solvency during the state’s financial issues.
Each council has a legacy. Legacy isn’t just about a project. It is about who you are and the lives you have affected along the way. The last three years we have worked to update and create a path forward for the next generation. Making sure our city is relevant, and sustainable through the very changing and difficult times in which we live. We continue to update rules and regulations over which we have control over, while looking ahead to make sure our city is vibrantly moving forward.