City Council Should Have People of Great Character

Feb 24, 2015 | Uncategorized

In the fall I wrote about the upcoming City Council elections and how important they are, and previously I’ve mentioned some of the characteristics important to have in elected officials. With Election Day being six weeks from today, I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you about some of the criteria we consider when endorsing candidates.

Criteria for Supporting City Council Candidates

Serving on the City Council is a serious responsibility with serious consequences for the overall community, but especially the business community. Consequently, business leaders will be rigorous in their consideration of candidates and very direct in communicating what will be necessary to earn the trust and support of the business community.

Not Acceptable

Candidates that are narrowly focused and have an anti-business perspective will not be supported. Nor will candidates who are dishonest or deceptive about their beliefs. In that regard, experience shows that candidates who are unwilling to honestly convey their views about issues important to business and the local economy, if elected, pursue policies opposed to business and are not accessible and open to input. We absolutely will not support ideologically-driven people who are deceitful in their communications and who work against the interests of the broader business community.

Values that Matter to Business

We do not have a checklist of specific policy positions that candidates must agree to before receiving our support, but we have a strong set of values that are important to us against which candidates will be measured.

In general terms, to earn our support, candidates must:

  • support the creation of primary jobs,
  • support economic development marketing and the expansion of existing primary employers,
  • support reducing the length of the development approval process,
  • support water development and storage,
  • support community and regional mobility, especially as relates to street and highway capacity,
  • support maintaining strong public utilities while keeping utility rates reasonably low,
  • oppose mandates on employers relative to their relationships with their own employees.

Relative to personal characteristics and experience that matter to business, candidates must…

be honest. As noted above, candidates who run under false pretenses or that are not candid and forthcoming about their agenda and views will not be supported. Honesty is foundational to public service and to earning our support.

be open-minded and willing to hear various perspectives. A councilperson is a representative of all of the people, not the champion of special interests or narrow philosophies. They are on Council to make the best possible long-term decisions for the community. Said in the negative, we do not support agenda-driven ideologues. Doing the job right requires intellectual curiosity, being data-driven, and being open to hearing all perspectives.

…be able to work well with professional city staff while not automatically deferring to their judgment. Both roles are important, but they are different. Council Members bring independent perspective that is rooted in the representing the overall perspective of the citizenry. Independently examining and questioning the staff input in a mutually respectful manner is a key role of Council Members.

…reflect well on the community. The give and take of public decision making can be messy. Even so, we expect a high level of dignity and respectfulness of people who represent us.

be committed to the community and to the job. Doing the job right requires a dedication of energy, time and focus.

be public-service motivated. The primary motivation should be to serve the broader public interests. Serving on Council is not about pushing personal agendas or ego-gratification.

…have relevant experience. Good intentions are great. Better, however, are good intentions backed by relevant experience and knowledge. We are interested in people with experience in their work and civic life that lends itself to serving on the city council

…care enough to work hard to win election. To earn our support, candidates must demonstrate that they have ‘fire in the belly’ and will work extremely hard to win election.