I am excited to have submitted an application for the vacant Oshkosh City Council position. I have submitted the required documents that I expect will be posted at some point, but I think it is worth explaining why I want to serve, what I would plan to do if picked, and my qualifications.
Why I Want to Serve
When considering submitting an application I asked myself, what are the unifying values of the City of Oshkosh? What brings us all together? Am I capable of representing the interests of Oshkosh’s 66,000 plus residents? Oshkosh is growing more diverse. I see this in my sons’ school, my neighborhood, in public spaces throughout the city, and in census trends. Our diversity includes our politics; Oshkosh has residents active across the ideological spectrum. Our unifying value is not membership in a demographic group or political party. I believe our unifying value is a commitment to maximizing the quality of life in Oshkosh. To me this is a goal that everyone, whether they have kids in school, are retired, or live on the north, south or west side, can share.
As I tell my MPA students, resources are finite, needs are infinite, and values are contested. Every resident owns a share of our government, and every resident has a right to be represented and heard. Every voice matters. To me the role of the city council is serving as a bridge between the values of our residents, and the professionals delivering services in our city. An efficient, effective, and equitable local government requires a high-functioning council where voices can be heard, civil debate can be had, and decisions can be made.
What I Would Strive To Do
But what are my specific goals if I were picked to serve?
- I would listen and learn. This includes considering formal feedback from residents, as well as simply being available and visible.
- I would strive for a more active transparency. I believe a government must be trusted to be effective. Taking small steps to improve the accessibility and searchability of our codes, policies, and financial documents would help improve public trust.
- I would encourage the development of a local government accountability statement that ensures council members, city management, and citizens share a common idea of what it means for our city government to be accountable. When we are all on the same page, accountability can become an actionable concept by which we judge our performance.
- I would advocate for continued progress towards controlling our city’s debt-service costs. The city has made progress on this front, and I would work to keep the positive momentum going be exercising good financial oversight.
- Continue the city’s commitment to smart economic development by making Oshkosh a place where businesses want to be.
- I believe the number one economic development tool is a good quality of life. I will always work to improve our gateways, strengthen our neighborhoods, improve our parks, and keep Oshkosh safe.
- I would work to improve our city’s data systems. The more analytics we have to inform decision-making, the better.
- Most broadly, I would exercise a commitment to the governance role played by the council in a City-Manager form of government. I am committed to respecting boundaries, and working collaboratively with other members of the council.
I have significant experience, and a skillset, relevant to serving on the Oshkosh city council. My entire professional career has involved state and local government. I have a clear understanding of the machinery of state and local government in Wisconsin, including extensive knowledge of policy, government structure, and the specifics of local government revenue generation and concepts such as municipal aid. My time working as a lobbyist taught me how things get done in Madison. My time at the Plan commission, and service to my neighborhood association, demonstrate my knowledge of the linkages between the community and Oshkosh city government.
My formal education includes a Ph.D. in Urban Studies, which involved extensive training in planning, analytic methods, and managing the specific of public management. In my current position I teach a variety of courses relevant to local government. Click here to view my professional resume.
I have no doubt there will be many good candidates for this position. I hope that my demonstrated commitment to serving this community, my professional experience, my belief in the power of inclusion, and my commitment to good governance makes me one of them!