Local Government isn’t Scary After All

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Last night I did something I’ve never done before.  I spoke during public comment at a local city council meeting.  I’ve been to quite a few city council meetings- my husband Pat was on our city council for some time- but have never addressed the council until last night.

I attended the meeting last because my city wants to reassign where our local option sales tax dollars are allocated and there has been fierce debate on how the money should be reallocated.  My husband had a previous engagement so he was not able to attend.  I was not planning on speaking, only taking notes, but after hearing a couple other residents give their thoughts I started feeling like I should add my two cents.  Apparently it was obvious from just looking at me, because our mayor asked me directly if I wanted to speak.  The mayor and I have not seen eye to eye on a few things in the past so I was pleasantly surprised that he asked for my input.  I think it was actually better than I had not planned to speak because I didn’t have time to #1 Talk myself out of it or #2 Worry about what I was going to say.

I stuck to facts and figures, did not get emotional, and used historic records to make my point.  Two people in the room who disagreed with me earlier in the meeting told me I had done a good job afterwards- that was also pleasantly surprising!

In spite of having to been to a ton of council meetings in the past I learned several things last night.  They are:

#1 My husband is amazing!  Yes, I already knew this but he reinforced it by telling everyone how proud he was of me.  Best part- he and I are mostly, but not completely, in agreement on this topic and that didn’t matter to him one bit.

#2 It is truly remarkable how long people can talk about handicapped parking spots on a two block section of one city street.  Truly.  Remarkable.  Yawn.

#3 I’m reminded how sad it is that so few people participate in local government.  There were several significant items on the council meeting agenda last night and there were five people in the audience. I live in a town of 4500 people.   Yes, I know that most people have busy schedules but it’s your tax dollars being spent on your streets, your parks, your police and fire departments, your city!

Not only do I encourage you to take what I have learned and run with it, but I encourage you to do something you’ve never done before and think is scary.  Ask that cute coworker out (assuming you’re both single)!  Take that road trip!  Apply for that dream job!   You might find out it’s not so scary after all!

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