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This week, Ark Valley Voice will run a series of interviews with all Salida city council members and Mayor P.T. Wood, providing an overview of the state of the city. The series of interviews has been contributed by Lawton Eddy and Joe Jordan. Five questions were asked (see  this mornings article: Introduction to State of Salida Interviews

Salida City Council during a June 2019 council session. Left to right: Cheryl Brown Kovacic, Justin Critelli, Mayor P.T. Wood, Mike Bowers, Jane Templeton, Dan Shore. Not in the picture Harald Kasper. (File photo)

In response to the question “What has gone well with the current council?” Salida City Council members and Mayor P.T. Wood responded. Their answers follow, without editorial comment:

Question 1: What has gone well with the current council?

Dan Shore:

This council has excellent staff and council morale; there has been a restoration of civility and cordial behavior among council members and between council and staff.
We spend significantly less time in executive session.
Legal fees are substantially lower while we have a pool of experts in municipal law with vast experience who attend our council meetings and serve as a helpful resource to council and staff.

Cheryl Brown-Kovacic:

This council has a different vision than past councils. Past goals were narrower in terms of being focused on limited government engagement. Goals now are those that came from the community – housing, preserving community character, broader issues that impact the quality of life – like daycare.
We have a great staff in place, and council and staff work well together.

Harald Kasper:

The culture of the council [is different]. The retreat with the council and the city administrator was very constructive. There was respect, laughter, listening, arriving at clear goals. We don’t always agree with each other, but there is enjoyment.
There is so much potential now for new things to sprout. So much groundwork has been done and issues resolved so we can plan and work together. It’s an exciting time to be on the city council.
I’m most proud of the theme of civility during council meetings. It has a lot to do with the individuals on the council. The results are good.

Justin Critelli:

There are very competent department heads in all departments available with answers when we need them. In addition, legal counsel … is present and available for what we need to know.
Council has a willingness to say yes and hear things out.
The conversation is good. We focus on the issue at hand, make the point and move on.
Once a vote is done we move on. Dissenting voters are able to accept and move on. There’s no ax to grind.
The resolution to be civil is an accomplishment — it’s more inclusionary. What citizens say to the council is reflected back, so people know they were heard.
There are civility posters in council chambers – it’s night and day from the past.
Offering a statement of intention for the meeting adds a human element – it’s not just about rules of conduct.
There’s been no public tie-breaker votes, no use of a gavel.
There’s been judicious use of executive sessions.
Council members come prepared – do the work and the reading. It makes me want to be a better council person – there’s lots of mutual respect.
Mayor and council work more than they have to. They want to hold each other up and get things done.
Because of healthy council discourse I’ve felt more emboldened to do better, to participate and makes a point of extending compassion and civility.

Jane Templeton:

Internal communications are excellent. The administrator conveys weekly updates to the council about internal meetings, outcomes and plans.
Council has been very professional and courteous; if someone disagrees, it’s OK. Everyone listens, we vote, we move on.
Council is perceived as a unit – not as individuals or blocks.
We have no trouble laughing at ourselves, no exclusions – everyone is part of the joking and camaraderie, no one stands out as an outlier.
PT runs an excellent meeting – keeps us focused and on task. He has excellent knowledge of procedural rules.
Active listening during public comment has been great. It seems to have shifted the public comment is delivered to council also.

Mike Bower:

Council Member Mike Bower chose not to respond to this question.

Mayor P.T. Wood:

What’s going well is how incredibly well city staff is functioning, it’s an amazing team. They all get along, they are all competent and are doing jobs at a very high level. It’s fun to watch.
The council works well with staff. It’s absent any awkwardness. People seem to enjoy being on council and staff seems to enjoy going to work.
No matter your political stripes- the collegiality and civility have been very gratifying.

Next in this series of interviews by Lawton Eddy and Joe Jordan:

“What has this council accomplished?”