Reconciliation and Progress — 4/8/2009

The winners won, and the other candidates did not. All had supporters. In each of the contested races close to Riverside, the village and districts 96 and 208, yesterday’s winners will on entry into office join incumbents in mid-term. The ideas and positions articulated in the campaigns, even by the lone re-elected incumbent Nancy Jensen, now move to the official bodies with legal responsibility for their activities.

What steps are best at this moment for reconciliation in our small town, and its nearby neighbors, to help build support for the important decisions that each of these public bodies must confront in this difficult economy?

To start off, officials might pursue an ongoing open conversation with constituents.

When difficult choices must be made, perhaps a guiding principle is to “table,” in the British sense of the word, topics as soon as they appear, thus signalling to all an anticipated need for a public choice, and thereby eliciting comment.

I think each of the three bodies can significantly involve the public and strengthen consensus by alerting it to their need for public consideration, ideas, alternatives, references to successes elsewhere, etc. Inevitably, sides will form, and debate will ensue. That’s a blessing! It is nothing of which to be afraid. If people know their side has been briefed and argued with all relevant evidence and precedent, then they can at least have confidence that the resulting decision was properly informed.

This very site, to Kim’s and Holly’s credit, is one such appropriate forum. Importantly, it is independent, not owned or controlled by any of the public bodies. Community officeholders like ours can foster awareness, research, thought and conversation by joining in these discussions, or simply by initiating them and promising to stay tuned.

By the same token, such conversations can take on added significance if, as elsewhere, they are captured as records of independent public input with a bearing on an official vote, choice or act.

Many of the volunteers on all of the campaigns have observed that our community, and our nearby neighbors, are possessed of extraordinary residents with many professional and personal accomplishments to their credit. The village has traditionally captured some of this expertise through the commission system. (Should school boards should consider analogous bodies?) But not everyone can take the time to volunteer, meet regularly, deal with ongoing case flow, etc., as commission members must.

Does that mean we can now use technology to broaden the net, so to speak, for the public bodies to capture additional resident expertise?

Anyway, it is an idea. I am sure there are many more. What’s yours?

POSTED WEDNESDAY APR 8, 2009 09:57 #
Explore posts in the same categories: Politics, Riverside and Olmsted

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