A Few of My Objectives

Since I’m running for mayor, I reckon it’s probably pretty important that I give you some sort of idea as to what I want to accomplish, should I be voted in.  So in this post, I’ll tell you about a few of the things I’d like to do.  There are more than these, of course, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.

Please note that not only does my Standard Disclaimer apply, but also that as just one member of a council of seven, my election as mayor doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get any of this stuff done; I’ve still only got one vote.  Still, this is what I’m going to attempt:

Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure.  Not the most exciting topic, generally, but our aging pipes, streets, sidewalks, and other physical bits of the city are going to be consuming a great deal of our local tax revenue for the foreseeable future, just to keep services at the same level they are now.  As this is one of the rock-bottom basic things a city needs to provide, I’ll be prioritizing catching up with desperately needed maintenance over other uses of municipal funds.

Quarterly Town Hall Meetings.  If you’ve been to a City Council meeting, you may have seen the formal and somewhat off-putting procedure used for citizens to address the Council.  While some of that formality is necessary to keep things from devolving into a filibustering contest, there’s no reason we can’t also have occasional informal meetings, where citizens can get some real dialogue in with the mayor, councilors, and staff.  There wouldn’t be any set agenda, so you wouldn’t be limited to comments about a specific topic.  Instead, you could ask us about any topic you like.

Fiber to Every Property.  Don’t get me wrong; this will be a huge, expensive investment, and it’s not something that’s going to get done in six months.  However, it’s an investment that I think we’d be foolish not to make.  I would go so far as to predict a noticeable uptick in local entrepreneurial activity — and a concomitant increase in employment and municipal revenue — should we manage to make this happen.

City Code Reform.  Most of our ordinances are fine, but we’ve got at least a few laws on the books that are outdated, obsolete, or unconstitutional.  I’d like to do a full overhaul of the code to ensure that our ordinances are both reasonable and necessary.

Volunteer Constabulary.  Many forms of crime-fighting require trained, uniformed police officers, and if you want untrained volunteers to do that sort of thing, you can end up with some very bad outcomes (e.g. vigilantism).  However, there are some tasks currently being done by uniformed officers that could just as easily be done by volunteers… which frees up those uniformed officers to do the stuff that we need uniformed officers to do.  This can be a legal minefield, so it’s going to take a lot of work to make sure we do it right.  Still, if we’re careful, we should be able to come up with a way to help our small police force be more effective, even in the absence of increased revenue.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions about these topics and any other you may want to bring up .  After all, just because I haven’t mentioned a position on a given topic doesn’t mean I don’t have one, so if there’s an issue you’d like me to address, please let me know in the comments below!

Running for Mayor

IMG_1026This morning I filed the necessary forms to launch my candidacy for the position of mayor of Cottage Grove.  Since I was the first, and so far only, person to submit said paperwork, I can safely say that I’m absolutely the most popular of all the official candidates for that position!  Of course, I’m therefore also the least popular of all the official candidates for that position, but I figure I should concentrate on the positive, right?

So here’s a bit of municipal trivia for you (and the standard disclaimer, as always, still applies): some cities have what’s called a “mayor-council” form of government, where the mayor is the chief executive officer of the city, and makes lots of important decisions on his/her own.  Cottage Grove does not have this type of government.

Instead, Cottage Grove (along with all the other cities in Oregon with, I think, around three exceptions) has a “council-manager” form of government.  In this type of government, the mayor is almost a ceremonial title, with no particular power to bind or loose beyond that of any other council member.  The only real mayoral “superpowers” are a) access to a little tiny version of Theodore Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit“, b) the ability to call an emergency council meeting in the case of a natural disaster or similar, and c) the ability to singlehandedly place an issue on the council’s agenda (though not necessarily to get it passed nor even get a vote to take place).

While the mayor’s powers are pretty similar to those of any other councilor, there are a couple of key differences between the role of mayor versus that of councilor:

First, the mayor acts as a sort of ambassador for the City of Cottage Grove.  If any dignitaries from elsewhere happen to come to town, the mayor is the presumptive person who greets the dignitaries and asks them how their trip was, etc.  Likewise, the mayor gets to sign proclamations for things like Yak Shaving Day and Potato Awareness Month, and then hands copies out to the appropriate recipients with a hearty handshake and photo op.  There’s also some dog-and-pony-show stuff to help the City win project grants and the like.

Second, the mayor acts as the traffic light for council meetings.  The mayor holds the gavel, and it’s his/her job to make sure that everyone on the council gets a chance to speak on any given issue that comes before the body, that meetings aren’t derailed by extraneous chatter, and that nothing gets skipped over.  Some familiarity with parliamentary procedure can really come in handy here.

So with all that said, this November, those of you who reside within the city limits of Cottage Grove (and are registered voters) will get to decide whether or not I end up filling that role.

Later on, I’ll try to persuade you that I’m a good choice, but I think I’ve gone on long enough for one post.

In the meantime, though, if you just can’t wait, feel free to take to social media in order to thoughtfully compare me to Thomas Jefferson and/or Adolph Hitler.  ‘Tis the season, after all!

— Jake