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Ten town hall rules: Overcoming internal conflicts

Ideas from the Road

Mila Besich, the mayor of Superior, Arizona, population 3,068, wrote us at SaveYour.Town to share the changes they’ve made around internal conflicts within their city, chamber, school board and new nonprofit. It’s relevant to any small town and it’s my pleasure to share her advice!

“Our community is small, 3,068 residents, less than two square miles. We have many challenges and have had all sorts of internal conflicts. You can do a Google search about some of our issues, we are an example of how any community can overcome those conflicts.

In 2016, an election took place and soon after that election we convened a community retreat with our Town Council, School Board, Chamber of Commerce and our newly formed nonprofit Rebuild Superior Inc. The focus of the discussion, how could we all work together to build our community.

We wanted to share some of our ideas with your readers on how we have stayed idea friendly. This is mostly an attitude and philosophy but has proven to be helpful for our success. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to dream big and communicate as often as you can with everyone.

We had two issues we wanted to tackle up front. Blight and Youth retention. We did not have a huge budget for either special program, but we committed $10,000 for blight and $5,000 for a Youth Leadership program. It was a start, and both programs are making significant impact. We also did not over study either program.

Here’s our Top Ten rules on how we try to run things from inside Town Hall.

1. Always keep an open door and be willing to help individual citizens solve their problems.

2. Support community giving organizations through non-financial means, such as using the influence of Town leadership to support events.

3. Make town facilities available and optimized for community programs as cheaply as possible.

4. Participate in and honor the contributions of community organizations.

5. Always be willing to do what you can (within the rules) for your fellow man.

6. When you find an ordinance or policy that is unfair, don’t be afraid to change it.

7. Look for ways you can work with other groups and individuals for positive change.

8. Be willing to take a back seat to others’ ideas, do not insist on complete control and be open to putting time and resources behind those ideas.

9. Insist that all code and zoning reviews are completed in a timely manner, with no backlogs or waiting lists. This makes expedited permits unnecessary.

10. Look for ways to say yes. Things that are impossible as written may be possible with a simple change of approach. Know the code well enough to be able to navigate the customer through that process

Keep up the great work that you are doing. Thanks for the inspirations.”

I’ll add that Mila is active on social media and shares the work that their community is doing. See what Superior shares here: https://www.facebook.com/MayorMilaBesich/

Please note that these articles are shared in several newspapers and enewsletters across the country. I try to write articles that can be relevant for more than one community. If you’d like me to talk about a specific subject, feel free to email me at deb@saveyour.town

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