Guest Column | Effecting Positive Change for North Bend: Proposal for Better Communication between Council and Community

This guest article is written by Brenden Elwood, a candidate for North Bend City Council [Position #5], who was recently endorsed by Mayor Ken Hearing. Elwood believes one of the reason the mayor chose to endorse him was because of his plan to improve the communication between Council and the community.

This is Elwood’s Communication Plan:

Throughout this campaign, I’ve had the great privilege of getting to know the candidates and meeting hundreds of my community neighbors. Each of them with their own perspective on what is and is not working for North Bend.

Among the candidates who have been going door-to-door meeting residents, I see a general consensus forming, which is that people are interested in knowing which priorities facing North Bend are most important: traffic, managing new development, sewer, downtown corridor, business development, etc.?

In participating in previous forums, it is clear to me that every candidate agrees that all of these issues are important.

There is one issue, however, at the heart of every question, every concern, that is not immediately recognized or called out, but undergirds the emotional experience and expression when discussing these issues face-to-face. Upon peeling back the layers of every conversation, the common thread apparent is that communication between the City Council and the Community is in need of improvement.

Because of this, I believe the Council must act now to rebuild the trust and connection it should have with the Community, so that people are aware that the Council has their best interest at heart and that it is actively working to make North Bend a better place.

When I bring this to light among the candidates and my community neighbors, everyone seems to agree.

What to do about it

I once heard late Robin Williams cite this quote, “It is better to shoot for the stars and miss, than aim for the gutter and hit.” For North Bend, I take this insight to heart and contend that we must look forward, see every obstacle as opportunity, as we strive to achieve optimal harmony between the Council and the Community.

For me, there is no better small town success story, than when a community unites under one banner to overcome giant obstacles.

At the highest level, I propose there are 3 phases we can employ as we strive for this type of success:

  1. Re-engage – The communication from Council to the Community needs improvement; more outreach is required. Council must re-engage with the public to make sure the needs, wants, and desires are heard. Council must also ensure that the public is informed and has a say in all solutions being put into action.
  1. Re-fresh – Once the public is heard, Council can refresh its priorities to create effective solutions that begin today; not just 5, 7, or 10 years from now when all the developable land is gone. We can have a 10 year plan, for sure, but there are immediate needs we must address today.
  1. Re-vitalize – Creating actionable strategies based on enhanced public outreach and awareness is the only way to truly begin revitalizing North Bend. Every action Council makes will have better focus because of this. But, more importantly, the Community will begin thinking more positively about the Council. Once they see them as partners, support for Council, and what it wants to achieve, will grow.

“The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities.” – Abraham Lincoln

Outline of my proposal

There are many potential pitfalls to complacency and lack of action. It can become a vacuum. By listening to the People, Council’s objectives will become clearly defined, with action serving as the ultimate outcome.

Thus, in order to bring about immediate improvements, I propose a 90-day emergency session, during which time we can develop solutions for managing real-time demands as well setting smart direction for future growth. Council will collect data as much data as possible, process it, and synthesize it into real plans that consist of clear objectives, measurable goals, and achievable timelines.

Proposed timeline

Having measures in place, such as timing, will inspire Council to achieve and provide our Community something to look forward to.

The First 30 Days – This is the upfront data collection period. Council will conduct a massive public outreach initiative so that it can accurately learn public needs, wants, and desires. Council will also conduct an intensive audit of our community’s assets, resources, histories, and other pertinent data.

The Second 30 Days – With the data collection completed, Council can start identifying and classifying its priorities. These priorities will be ranked by level of impact, available resources, and ease of execution. Outreach to other agencies, organizations, clubs, both public and private, will also conducted so that we can take inventory of potential partnerships and resources that may be available to us.

The Third 30 Days – Once Council creates an accurate list of priorities, it will establish plans to resolve them. These plans will be strategic; in that they will have measurable goals, clear objectives to achieve said goals, and realistic timelines to realize those goals. Council will also start a new business plan built from our Community’s branding effort to make North Bend an Investor Friendly City. This is important as we need to supplement our financial resources in order build upon our existing sources of revenue.

Once Council’s due diligence is complete, they will hold multiple open houses to share with the public, gather input and support, and make any final touch adjustments that need to be made. Final public hearings will be conducted to ensure public sign-off of our new plans. Then, a new positive change will be underway.

By developing intelligent strategies with the public, Council can effect smart change today while paving the way for measured growth of the future. Action is what we need, and this is how we will get there.

 

COMMUNICATION PROPOSAL

 

 

Comments

  1. Calling for an emergency planning session? What? The candidate doesn’t tell us what the emergency is, and why a 90 day emergency is required. It’s not the council’s job to call a session to bring him up to speed on city business. Much of what Elwood calls for already exists, a fact he appears unaware of. Maybe he should have his own 90 day session where he reads the minutes of the meetings and then maybe he’s ready to run for council.

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