Musings of a council member

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Councilmember | Sep 15, 2010

For me, being on the council is like walking a tightrope. To accomplish things you have to stay on the rope to the end.

You can’t allow outside influences to sway you and, you have to make sure there’s not someone at the other end ready to cut it from under you while you’re in the middle.

There are multiple ropes to walk and it’s not always easy to give each (project/idea/concern) the attention it deserves.

My monthly opinion is supposed to be published the second Wednesday of each month. I’m a week late, not because I didn’t get around to writing this month’s column, which admittedly has been an excuse in the past, but because I decided not to send in what I had written.

Suffice to say, while I believe it was really good information and contained some important strategy for bettering Mukilteo, some city officials might have taken it personally, and once it becomes personal, nothing positive happens.

Unfortunately, after making my decision not to send in what I had written, I also ended up not sharing most of the related information I had been contemplating at the following council meeting.

While I had a perspective and information that should have been shared, I decided to be effective, and I needed to discuss it with other council members before bringing it up at a council meeting.

That’s actually the exact opposite of how local government is “supposed” to work.

Any council member should be able to introduce a topic for further evaluation and discussion at a future council meeting. Even our recently adopted council rules support this approach.

But in reality, new and innovative ideas tend to be dismissed before really being given adequate consideration.

As a result, it really requires aligning your allies not only with additional information but also anticipating the naysayer response to the proposal.

Don’t get me wrong; in my opinion the council majority is very receptive to new ideas. It’s just there’s not much of an opportunity to develop council-initiated ideas at council meetings and as a result, they’re often dismissed.

After sharing my decision not to submit what I had written with others, some suggested that I focus on the success we had with Waterfront Wednesdays this summer.

I do plan on writing more in the very near future about the collaboration with other events and organizations that made Waterfront Wednesdays a success and where we might be going including “Waterfront Wednesdays Winter” and “Waterfront Wednesdays Underground.”

But while the city “co-sponsored” some of the events that were part of Waterfront Wednesdays, there was really no city support of the Waterfront Wednesdays collaboration concept or branding.

In fact, while the first two planning and collaboration meetings were held at the Rosehill Community Center, our use of a vacant un-booked room for planning meetings that were open to the public was questioned, so instead of allowing petty politics derail the effort, we just stepped away and were graciously allowed to meet in the Art Building, Red Cup Café and Gene Nastri School.

Transportation, parking, and safety was the only one of three important components in the Waterfront Wednesdays strategy that was a huge disappointment, and is best left to a later discussion.

Moving forward, I do have some ideas. I think they’re good ideas and worthy of consideration. They’re not all mine but, even so, I think they’re worth pursuing further.

In the end I suppose I’ll need to accept one of Murphy’s Laws that states, “Everyone has an idea that won’t work.” I’m OK with that.

Looking back at my original draft and comparing it to this, I’m not so sure I succeeded in my attempt to not offend.

Some of my ambiguous statements might be interpreted by some differently than I intended, so I guess time will tell whether or not my not-so-subtle attempts at checking what I write are successful.

I used to have a footer on my e-mails that showed a sinking ship with the caption, “It could be that your purpose in life is only to serve as a warning to others.” Could be.

And a final note to my daughter Kate who on Sunday learned she made the Gonzaga University Cheer squad. Congratulations, honey! Now get your parents some basketball tickets.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon. It is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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