Friday, January 15, 2010

EARLY BIRD CANDIDATE SURVEY: Sarah Read for Columbia City Council

This time, 4th Ward city council candidate Sarah Read (left) answers questions from:
George Kennedy, professor of journalism and columnist, The Columbia Missourian
Tyree Byndom, Host, Kore Issues, KOPN radio
Mary Daly, Managing Editor, The MU Maneater
Jonathan Sessions, columnist/blogger, Columbia Business Times
Read's answers are below each question. 
Tyree Byndom asks:  What type of legacy would you like to leave behind?
A more efficient and effective government.  This is one that regularly engages with citizens across the community, uses resources wisely, promotes community health and safety, ensures that development is consistent with community values, and helps all citizens find opportunities to economically prosper.
George Kennedy asks:

1.  What does “smart growth” mean to you?

"Smart growth" is a phrase that is not well-defined and is often misunderstood. The kind of growth I would support is outlined in the community vision developed through the "Imagine Columbia’s Future" process:  "Columbia, Boone County and the surrounding region protect and preserve the natural environment, agricultural areas, and cultural resources; provide adequate infrastructure; include diverse, mixed use, walkable and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods; and develop in ways that positively contribute to and sustain community culture, heritage, and character.
"Our community accomplishes these ends through an open, inclusive, transparent, predictable and accountable planning process with fair allocation of costs." 
2.  What should be the top 3 priorities for the next council?

First, ensuring the adequacy of basic city services.  We have made recent improvements in safety and physical infrastructure.  More attention needs to be paid to energy, sewers, and social services.
Second, developing processes that make its work more efficient.  This includes setting clear goals and evaluation criteria, and using more modern forms of public engagement.
Third, renewal of the park sales tax which is critical to maintaining our existing parks.  Parks are used by 90% of  our residents and promote both public health and safety  and economic development, yet represent less than 5% of the overall budget.
3.    Should council members be paid?

No, not at this time, although I do think that a stipend that council members could use for administrative costs would be useful at some point.
4.  What do you see as the proper relationship between the council and the manager?
The two need to work together, much as a board works with an executive director. 
Under the City Charter, the council generally has the power to set policy, to license, tax and regulate, and to appoint the city manager. 
The manager in turn is responsible for the “proper administration of all the city’s affairs,” including the power to hire and manage employees, make policy recommendations and reports, prepare a budget for council review, and participate in council meetings. 
Mutual respect and frequent communication between the council and manager promotes more informed and sustainable decisionmaking.
Mary Daly asks:   What changes that would affect students could we expect to see if you were elected?

You can expect more forums where students can make their voices heard, more opportunities for internships (unpaid) that could help students build skills, and other opportunities for students to lend their expertise to community projects. 
I am also interested in helping facilitate the type of economic development that will lead to good jobs for our graduates, so those who want to stay in Columbia can do so.

Jonathan Sessions asks:

1.   In this voluntary position, what are your expectations of necessary time commitment?  

10 to 20 hours a week, in some weeks more.  I note that the December 2009 Volunteer Columbia newsletter reported that over the course of the last fiscal year, city council members shared a total of 1,313 hours of service (an average of approximately 4 hours per person per week) during regular meetings.
2. How do you plan to keep up with a demanding city council?

I read and absorb information quickly, and am very organized. I actually like reading ordinances and reports, and as a lawyer I have done so for more than 25 years.   As indicated above, I also think the council could positively affect its work flow by setting and focusing on a set of priorities.   My experience with strategic planning, asking hard questions, and analyzing the potential consequences of different policy options should help as well.

1 comment:

  1. Seems like Mike Martin has an agenda and has already chosen who he supports for races in Columbia. I can't believe anyone would be so foolish as to support his "blogs" with money. I'm concerned by the number of "no" votes on cameras. It tells me the education level and the criminal intent of a lot of his readers. This was my first, and it will be my last time on this site. Get a life Mike!