The First 120 Days
Can you believe it’s been four months since my election to the Marco Island city council? I’ve been asked by so many members of the community: “How’s it going? How are you doing?” My first thought is to ask them what they think, since they elected me to represent them. Instead, however, I reply without hesitation that I am doing great and truly enjoy serving the people of Marco Island. I’ve been able to help several members of our community, which is gratifying. Admittedly, the lengthy council meetings, lasting four to five hours, are a challenge.
I’ve shared with many of you during the campaign that I “got off the couch” because I felt our community was at a turning point. Little did I know the extent of our critical crossroads! The inability of city management to keep qualified staff has created high turnover, which in turn has severely impacted the consistency of policies and procedures across the board. This situation negatively impacts both residents and businesses alike. The churning of employees at all levels is the highest I’ve seen in my fifteen years as a resident. That’s why I’ve proposed that a Staff Climate Survey be conducted to hear from the staff on what might help city operations going forward.
When the city manager decided to quit the community and move on, he joined a long list of interim and full-time city managers who have left the city in the past ten years. The last time I did the math, the average time spent in this key position was only seventeen months – hardly conducive to stability. Employees in some department sections are only averaging six months! When preparing to evaluate the former city manager, I learned that he had no job description, and that there had been no process established for evaluating him. It is imperative for this council to follow a professional and open recruitment process for hiring a new city manager. However, the city manager is only the beginning. Marco Island must become the "Employer of Choice” for mid-level government staff to change for the better.
I ran for office because I felt Marco Islanders deserved a professional and effective government that operates in the sunshine and respects its citizens. I am committed to working with the new council towards that end. Effective government finds and follows the best possible process for making and implementing decisions. In the US Army, leaders used a decision-making matrix that began with problem definition. What I’ve learned so far as an elected official is that too often we jump to a solution without fully defining and understanding the problem we are trying to solve.
Another characteristic of effective government is that citizens should be able to follow and understand the decision-making process. They must be able to see how and why a decision has been made – what information, advice and consultation council considered, and which legislative requirements (when relevant) council followed. Thorough and complete staff work is paramount to support the process, as well as the public’s participation.
I’ll talk more about other components of effective government in future newsletters. Feel free to sign up for the newsletter and email me your thoughts. Thank you again for entrusting me with the privilege to serve you on City Council. This is an honor that I hold dear as I work for the future of Marco Island. With your positive involvement and support, we will move Marco Island in a positive direction for the future!