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Letter: City council achieves goals through consensus


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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Frank Jerome

Columbus

In the Aug. 22 Republic there was the latest letter questioning the council and what it does. The underlying idea is that what is seen by the public about the council is the whole story. The reality is that what really goes on is much different than what is perceived.

After two-and-a-half years on the council I have found that what I thought I knew about the council was just as these letter-writers are thinking. Once you are a member and have the responsibility of representing 8,000 people (or 44,000 for an at-large seat), the black-and-white world you saw before is much more complex.

I have been impressed by the vast amount in experiential knowledge each member brings. These diverse backgrounds supply information and experience that one person could never accumulate. Areas of interest also vary greatly, which play out in the over 20 boards on which the members of the council sit. It is not just two- to three-hour meetings a month but the additional 30 hours of other meetings we each attend.

The council has a much different purpose than the mayor. While the mayor may set the agenda, the council must make it work, both financially and actually. We all know our family may be in general agreement, but it rarely finds agreement in all things all the time. Multiply that by 8,000 to get the complexity of trying to hear all sides and make sound judgments. No one person has the ability to see and understand the complexities of every issue. Not everyone will be happy with every issue, but consensus brings out the best solutions.

The council rarely is of one mind on an issue. We try to hear all sides and go with a majority vote. Most of us have been in the minority on occasion, but we trust in the judgment of the others to act in good faith. The implication that some councilors would act out of a political purpose is wrong. The other members of the council would not tolerate it. We have a sworn responsibility, which we all take to heart.

There are many issues facing the city: the yearly budget, the scope of the State Street renovation, the amphitheater, downtown parking, the Crump renovation and the changes in landscaping downtown, to name some of the current ones. The parking recommendations have taken dozens of meetings and still will not take effect until Jan. 1. Nothing happens without great thought by a great number of people.

To have a city as nice as Columbus, there is work required from much of the population. The current level of quality is the result of work done by generations of people. The council’s work is to carry on that legacy and hopefully add to it.

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