consultants are sandburs

Friday, January 11, 2013

I have a Google Alert set for "tammy sakry" and it triggered an email alert to her Jan. 10, ABC Newspapers report, "New era in Ramsey with new mayor, members."

As usual, the report is thorough, informative, tightly written and balanced.

Sakry, in part, writes:

While Sarah Strommen has had several years of experience as a council member, she is the city’s first female mayor.

“It’s exciting,” she said.

When asked how it feels to be the city’s first female mayor, Strommen said she has never looked at it through that lens.

It is great to encourage more women to become involved in government, but that is not her focus, she said.

As Strommen and new Councilmembers Mark Kuzma, John LeTourneau and Chris Riley move into their new jobs, they know they will be facing a lot of challenges.

[...] As a council, they need to look how the city is positioned in the metropolitan area to draw economic development and investment opportunities, she said.

[...] One of the things the council will be doing is working with a consultant to determine the council’s vision for the city, she said.

While the council does not have to agree 100 percent on what that image is, the city needs to have a strong vision to be able to move consistently forward and for residents to hold the council accountable, Strommen said.

While strategic planning sessions still lie ahead for the new council, there is one thing on which the four new members said they agree – the city needs to determine what it is going to do with the COR project and figure out how to get it back into the hands of private developers.

[...] “We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Kuzma.

When he was campaigning in his Ward 2 area, roads were a big issue for the residents, according to Kuzma.

[...] Among the projects that Riley wants to move forward is the Armstrong Boulevard/Highway 10 intersection.

The traffic congestion and safety issues need to be addressed, Riley said.

The city needs to bring in larger employers, perhaps manufacturing offering a livable wage or higher, LeTourneau said.

[...] The new council members also see some internal issues that need to be addressed.

“The council needs to operate with respect for other council members, city staff and citizens, something that has been missing,” Riley said.

It also needs to be transparent in its dealings with less closed meetings and less issues of conflicts, he said.

“I want the citizens to get the full story (on how the council is doing things),” Riley said.

Kuzma said the council needs to take a close look at the existing city staffing.

“Do we have enough staff to operate efficiently,” he said.

There was a tremendous number of staff that were let go or left, Kuzma said.

The city needs to focus on its core functions, which are police, fire, streets, parks, Riley said.

Everyone is directly affected by those services and it is what the city budget is for, he said.

The council will also need to look at bringing economic development to the entire city, not just the COR, LeTourneau said.

[...]

Sakry wrote more, and readers should, again, go here for the full report.

I was perhaps more intrigued than the mayor, herself, by the gender breakthrough.

In touching base with Elaine Koehn of the Anoka Historical Society, she informed me that Lorraine Hostettler was Anoka Mayor from 1983-1985; hence, Strommen is not the first woman to serve as mayor within the various Anoka County cities. Neither Ms. Koehn nor I are aware of any other woman mayor in the county's history, so if readers know of another, please leave a comment.

Moreover, as best as can be determined from a list of county commissioners dating back to 1857 that Koehn provided (where many were listed by initials but where clearly all were men before it finally was constitutionally recognized that women were entitled to vote, something that inexplicably only happened around WW I or the post war era so that female entitlement to the franchise in our nation is less than a century old), it appears that the present 2013 County Board is the first to ever have a majority of the seats held by women. This came about by Ms. Braastad's victory for the seat previously held by Mr. Westerberg. Philosophically interchangeable, but altering the gender balance via the election outcome.

So, two gender equality firsts, one for City of Ramsey, one for the entire county.

Recognition of civil rights is a slow and imperfect process, but progress has been made. We as sensible people can only hope for more civil equality in all aspects of rights and entitlements. Luckily, Minnesota voters denied an ill-conceived throw-back amendment and instead favored not impeding civil rights unreasonably, in the last election.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If my memory is correct Coon Rapids has a female mayor late 90's early 2000's named Loni McCauley

eric zaetsch said...

Anon - Thanks. Spelling of the first name is unclear on the web, Loni vs Lonnie, and Elk River [not Anoka County but neighboring] has had Stephanie Klinzing as mayor.

Links, e.g.,

http://elections.startribune.com/mobile/profiles/50223.html

http://www.newsline.dot.state.mn.us/archive/01/oct/24.html

eric zaetsch said...

lonnimccauley@steppingstoneeh.org

http://steppingstoneeh.org/contact-us.html

"Chief Administrator Lonni McCauley’s experience includes more than 30 years of non-profit organizational management, 25 years as a community mediator, and 40 years of volunteering in local and metro-wide organizations."

Whether same person as in other two comments or close kinship, I cannot say. Three spellings of the first name now.