~ by Bob Volpe ~
Early last week, the city hosted a presentation for citizens interested in running for elected office. At issue are a mayoral position and three council spots, which will be decided during the April 3, 2018 election.
More than a dozen people attended the forum for potential candidates, a sign that much competition could occur in the forthcoming election showdown.
The meeting was organized by City Clerk Suzanne Leclercq. Mayor Neil Levy, City Attorney Erin Smith, City Manager David Buttery and Councilman Noel Sawyer were also in attendance. The presentation was an orientation of sorts to inform potential candidates of the workings of city government, the processes involved in the hearing of ordinances and resources available to council members, etc, and a brief introduction of the city charter.
Buttery pointed out the city’s goals and objectives and stressed the city’s core values: Customer Service, Integrity, Stewardship, Team Building, Respect, Loyalty, and Trust.
The mayor, in an effort to shed light on the process, asked Councilman Sawyer, “What might other council members expect from a newly elected council person?” Sawyer responded with some advice he was given when he was a newbie, “Listen and keep your mouth shut and learn as much as you can, because there is a lot. It’s overwhelming at first.”
The mayor then pointed out the importance of working together as a group. He said, “We all wanna’ be right. I’m trying to get it right. So I hope that everybody around us would have that same kind of approach, and when you do, and have open and honest conversation, you can get things done. Clearly, we don’t expect everybody to agree and it’s not easy. It’s not kissin babies and shaking hands.”
His message was to not take it personal when things don’t go your way.
Buttery then spoke about the budget being the most important business the council handles He couldn’t resist taking a shot at the media for not adequately explaining the complicated process involved in creating a budget. He said, “Despite what an editorial in the paper said, there is a very large public process associated with the budget.”
He then went on a four minute detailed description on how the process works. If any readers are interested in the creation of the city’s master plan or the budget process they should visit https://city-woodlandpark.org. Local newspapers often try to focus on the highlights of the budget process and the various fiscal debates. But due to space limitations, they can’t delve into all of the complex, financial details.
Dealing with the media
When the discussion turned to how to deal with the media, Buttery said, “A former city clerk told me, ‘Newspapers buy ink by the gallon.’ So you’ll never see the city manager get into a tussle with the newspapers, or for that matter, Facebook. I always try to provide factual information, but I don’t need to do it in a confrontational
The reference to newspapers buying ink by the gallon is a paraphrase of a quote accredited to Mark Twain, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel,” stated Twain.
The mayor then chimed in with his take on dealing with the media.
His advice was to “let the ink dry.” Give the story a little time before saying anything. He then said, “When people come to me and say, ‘I read that you…’ and then my first question is always; Do you believe everything you read? You know it’s not always the truth what you read in the paper… Remember what they’re here for, and that is to sell newspapers first and foremost. So you have to take a lot of that with a grain of salt.”
TMJ Writer Response
The city prides itself in following the city’s core values, yet the mayor in a public meeting blatantly fails to show respect for the presses’ first amendment duty to hold government accountable to the citizenry. It may be trendy for politicians to take shots at the media lately but, maybe the mayor should take the city manager’s advice and “not do it in a confrontational way.”