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TRUST AND TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNANCE

A number of residents and business owners have shared their concerns recently about not understanding how the city makes certain decisions. Numerous folks have complained in various forums about their lack of trust in the decision-making process or feeling that their voices are not heard. A toxic environment has recently developed where personal attacks are aimed against volunteers serving the city. To some extent, this has resulted in residents feeling less inclined to serve their city.

 

Lakeway has been run with the help of volunteers for over 50 years and is ranked high against similar governmental entities by numerous independent rating agencies and organizations. Losing volunteerism will result in a need for a larger city staff to provide the services we residents have come to expect. This will also lead to increased expenditure on the city’s part and larger tax burdens on residents and businesses.   I intend to preserve the volunteer nature of the city the best it can be preserved.

 

It is of paramount importance for a representative of a large population on any governing body to gather the relevant desires, perspectives, issues, concerns and possible solutions from the citizens in order to serve the community as a whole. City government representatives have an additional burden: to make decisions for the good of the community at large, even if they are not loved by a certain segment of the population due to outsized adverse impact on that segment. How much greater the burden when that segment might happen to be your neighbors and friends. However, city representatives must balance conflicting interests for the good of the city at large. There is a mechanism for balancing such interests by maintaining open channels of communication with the residents of the city. The city government must communicate the benefits of any decision to residents who oppose such a decision with relevant data, information, and analysis behind the rationale as well as the short-term and long-term outcomes for the city residents.

 

To ensure we collect as much information as possible to arrive at correct decisions for Lakeway at large, I plan to:

 

  • Publicize events and issues in advance to encourage residents and businesses to appear before city committees and council to share their concerns and opinions.

  • Communicate with residents via their preferred mode of communication.

  • Foster diverse participation in the city’s governance through committees and civic engagement to allow for healthy discourse on issues that affect residents.

  • Efficiently arrive at consensus by encouraging respectful dialogue and discouraging personal attacks because of differing perspectives.

  • Create open dialogue between the city and a wide body of residents.

  • Share the information I have learned from data and analysis with residents so they have sufficient time to evaluate the pros and cons of any given issue.

  • Encourage the spirit of servitude in city governance by modeling such a spirit. I will serve residents and businesses operating in Lakeway by supporting regulations that help the city preserve its character, lifestyle and attractiveness to residents, such as those that provide safety to the community at large and protect residents’ interests in their property and preserve the character of Lakeway.

  • Hear and act on the voices of residents and business owners by holding periodic town halls at convenient forums and times for the residents, attending various civic events, and conducting surveys and other events that result in increased participation.

  • Meet with city residents and business owners for coffee and short meetings to discuss city-wide issues that impact them individually or as a group.

  • Educate myself on issues so I can ask the relevant questions reflective of community interests in front of city council and various committees.

  • Share the rationale and reasons driving a decision with both sides and try to bring parties of differing views together for productive dialogue and compromise that is in the best interest of the city as a whole.

 

Further, I will ensure that I am open with the other Council Members, the Mayor, and the City Staff to share what I have learned from our Lakeway citizens through these channels so that we can arrive at correct decisions for the greater Lakeway.

Do you have thoughts on this issue? I'd love to hear them. Feel free to send me an email at info@kumar2019.com