City Council FYI: What can you do for your community?
Ask not what your community can do for you; ask what you can do for your community.
Whether it is volunteering for a cause, speaking up for something you believe in or running for office, ask yourself: What am I doing to better my community? I think this is a question that people should ask themselves on a consistent basis because only by taking an active role in the happenings in our community will we be able to move Steamboat forward in a positive way.
I chose to apply for the open vacancy on Steamboat Springs City Council last year — and run again this last election — as my way to support my community. I believed, and continue to believe, that it was important for me to step up and play a part in the decisions that were happening in my hometown. However, my role as aCity Council member is not to act in a vacuum and to simply make decisions on just what I think is best for the community. Rather, my role as a City Council member is to represent the wants of the community.
So, what can you do for your community? Speak up. Make your voice heard. Get engaged. City Council makes their best decisions when they have had ample comments from all sides of the community.
Too often, big issue items are heard in front of City Council with minimal comments from the community. As members of city council, we strive to do what we believe is best for the community; however, even though our intentions are good, sometimes our vision can be short-sighted or our opinions not properly vetted.
This occurs most often when we do not hear from the community. Frequently, it is not until council makes a decision that the outcry starts to happen. We need to get community input beforehand to avoid cutting evening bus service or Igloo-type decisions council has made in the past.
One of City Council’s goals for 2018 is community engagement, and council members and city staff have taken this goal very seriously. We want to hear from you. To spur community engagement, City Council has started a radio show and monthly articles in the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Valley Voice. The purpose of this media engagement is to let the community know what we are currently working on, as well as sharing some of the thoughts of city council members on those issues.
City staff has also started posting City Council agendas and other current information on the city Facebook page at facebook.com/cityofsteamboat and started a website at engagesteamboat.net to inform, collaborate with and empower the community. There have also been community surveys that have gone out to get the community’s thoughts on the Howelsen Park Vision 2040 and the Downtown Improvement Plan.
All of these efforts are designed to give community members an opportunity to participate and become informed on the important issues facing our town. And there are many.
During the remainder of 2018, City Council will be addressing housing, taxes and parking — among many other important issues — and we need to hear from you.
I encourage the community to get involved before decisions are made. Email your council members, come to City Council meetings, fill out a survey, make sure your voice is heard. If city politics is not your thing, volunteer, join a board, do something to help your community. Because the question should not be what can your community do for you, but what can you do for your community.
Lisel Petis is a member of the Steamboat Springs City Council, representing District I. The opinions expressed in this column are my own and may not be reflective of the opinions of other City Council members.
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