Five months in to my term on City Council, I haven’t written yet about the experience.
It’s been hard for me to suss out exactly what I can or should write publicly while conforming with laws, regulations, and guidelines. If I wrote about a topic under Council’s purview, it could possibly be interpreted as the opinion of Council as a whole or an endorsement of a particular position. I want to conform with guidelines as well as avoid putting Council and the City in a compromising position.
I can, however, write broadly about what the experience has been like, without touching on any particular subjects.
When I served on planning commission and the budget committee here, I frequently confronted new subjects and issues that I hadn’t been exposed to before.
Council takes that learning process to a whole new level. Every month brings something new and important.
Not even five full months in, we’ve already done important work on at least a half-dozen disparate areas of important and urgency. On many of these subjects, I had little prior exposure to the details.
Picking things up quickly offers an interesting challenge, especially when I have to explore further beyond the immediate information the city provides. It helps to look around the country to see what other governments do to tackle the challenges we face.
Doing that exploration effectively takes real work, especially when you account for the need to contextualize.
An approach that worked for Portland, with a population growing toward a million people, might not work for Yachats, with under 1,000 full-time residents. Still, probably part of Portland’s strategy can help us. The question is, which part?
Despite all that work, it can still be frustratingly easy to overlook things. There are angles you don’t see, perspectives you don’t hear. You don’t always get it right.
I know I’m doing my best, but that doesn’t mean I’m always going to make the right call. All I can do is keep trying, and keep learning.