Thoughts on Last Night’s Council Meeting

Well I gave it my best try and was not selected for the open Oshkosh council seat. It being a 1 and 14 shot I am not really surprised. As I tweeted out, rejection is part of putting yourself out there. I know I was well qualified by any objective measure, and felt my materials, my talk, and my answers to council member questions demonstrated who I was and what I can contribute. In short I put it all out there, anything beyond that is out of my hands. I am sure each individual council member had their reasons for how they voted. It was interesting that there was no debate regarding why council members favored who they favored, though that appeared to be a process issue.

So what now? Personally, I wish the new council the best. As I stated last night the role of a board member is to serve as a bridge between the values of Oshkosh residents and the professional management of the city. It was clear while watching the decision-making process that there are entrenched coalitions on the council, which promises to make serving on this current council, well, interesting.

I am lucky in that I get to continue my service on the Plan Commission, working in the community, and making a positive impact where I can. It was heartening that so many of the other applicants are similarly positioned to contribute. It is a little disheartening that (and this is just my perception) economic development and good financial oversight seem to viewed as competing interests to diversity and inclusion. It does not have to be that way.

Diversity and inclusion should be reflected in budgets, both the process and the final product. Failing in that regard makes the budget, which is the contract between the government and the governed, fundamentally flawed. Diversity and inclusion are tools for economic development, they are concepts that legitimize decision-making and attract businesses. And Inclusion is not some abstract idea, we can operationalize it by inviting people to serve, providing basic cultural competency training to front-line bureaucrats, translating documents, and prioritizing it during the procurement processes (among many other things). These steps actually make government more efficient by ensuring we are meeting everyone where they are at. Inclusion, like transparency and accountability, are proactive concepts that increase trust, legitimacy, and performance.

We can pursue inclusion and responsible financial oversight and economic development. We can have it both ways. We need to have it both ways, because if we do not we are falling behind.

I strongly believe that persistence is what leads to good things happening. So I plan to be persistent.


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