Community engagement at the city level


Readers looking for results from the Nov. 6 General Election will find them in Saturday’s print edition of the Siuslaw News. Results were made public last night beginning at 8 p.m., after the paper’s print deadline, but an updated tally can be found online at www.TheSiuslawNews.com.

Lane County Elections will continue to provide updates on the results until all ballots are processed.

Among the contests in the election was two seats for the Florence City Council: the positions currently held by Woody Woodbury, who was appointed in January, and Susy Lacer, whose four-year term ends in December.

Nov. 7, 2018 — The council met on Monday night for a regular session, the last public meeting before the election drew to a close.

During the public comment period, Florence resident Sally Wantz stepped forward to speak.

“I want to thank each and every one of you,” she said to the five members of the council seated on the dais before her. “I want to thank you for your service. … You’ve put forth the work and I appreciate all you’ve done.”

She thanked each councilor individually and acknowledged that the councilors hold unpaid volunteer positions.

“I looked at the itineraries and schedules that you all have for this last year and going forward, and I can’t believe the countless hours you all have to put in to make this city run smoothly,” Wantz said. “I know how much work goes into this, and I fully appreciate it. I just want to say thank you.”

Each speaker gets three minutes during the public comment period. Wantz used the remainder of her time to lead the attendees in a “moment of quiet reflection.”

“I would like us to go inward and visualize those people who have sat up there before, visualize the people who have sat over here (at the staff table) and been paid to run this city, people who have been here before, who have gotten us to this place, and to those who are coming still. It’s a great responsibility,” she said. “I look forward to watching whoever is up there help run this city as best as you can.”

Afterwards, Wantz said she wanted to start the meeting with a thank you and quiet reflection to help set the tone for the meeting.

“There seems to be so much division in the world, country, state and city, and the city is supposed to be nonpartisan. No matter who gets elected, I want to thank them for being part of our city,” she said. “We’re going to be fine.”

She said that recent contention around the council and election encouraged her to issue her request for a return to “common decency.”

Besides the council and city staff who Wantz thanked, Florence relies on committees to shape policy, conduct research and lead in the areas of transportation, public art, economic development, community development, planning and more.

City Recorder Kelli Weese brought Agenda Item No. 7, “Committee & Commission Code & Policies,” before the council to help streamline language in the Florence City Code about committees and commissions and to clarify their roles.

“Our committees put in countless hours in volunteer efforts in their specific interests and things that work towards the city’s goals,” Weese said. “We wanted to make sure there was a formalized process for them to have a voice in the city’s overall work plan and goal setting — and to make sure the council is aware of what they are working towards.”

For the past year, according to Weese, staff has been working with the council in work sessions on reviewing committee structures and duties, as well as creating a policy manual for the committees. Updates included adding the option to have up to 11 people in each committee, changing the term to four years to match the city’s new biennial budget, clarifying appointments and removals and simplifying membership requirements.

 “Overall, we looked at each committee’s scope and purpose and thought about how they can be larger, when possible, to incorporate more of the overarching goals of each particular objective,” Weese said. “This really helps to make sure the committees have a wide variety of projects.”

She said that committees have option to break up into smaller committees to complete tasks, and more members might help accomplish those tasks.

“We find that’s been an efficient method to get the work done,” Weese said.

Later in the meeting, Councilor Joshua Greene agreed.

“One of the changes we’re making with the subcommittees is that the committees can decide if they want to expand the quantity of people,” he said. “For example, the Public Art Committee is one that is really going to take advantage. We have seven people and we have eight subcommittees right now, and want to create three more. That situation is the perfect example where we want all 11 people. So if you’re interested in public art, this is going to be a big opportunity to get involved.”

Other changes included consolidating committees.

The first is a new Transportation Committee that will combine and expand the roles of the Airport Advisory Committee and Transit Advisory Committee.

“The hope with that is to provide those two outlets, which are kind of narrow in scope, with a much broader way to look at our transportation infrastructure,” Weese said. “Hopefully they will be able to work on some policy objectives that meet all those needs, and think about how they work together.”

The second new committee combines and expands the roles of the Housing Committee, Economic Development Committee and Parks Committee, all of which are currently inactive, into a new Community and Economic Development Committee.

In addition, the Environmental Management Advisory Committee has been expanded to include the Tree Board and to address noxious weed removal and the City of Florence Audit Committee will now be an Ad-Hoc Committee.

 “We’ve really done a lot of work — clearing of the roles and the job descriptions for the council, committee members and staff — trying to narrow down what everybody’s responsibilities are,” Weese said.

Now that the policy work is over, people are welcome to apply to: The Planning Commission, Budget Committee, Community & Economic Development Committee, Environmental Management Advisory Committee, Public Arts Committee, Transportation Committee and the Audit Ad-Hoc Committee.

“We have a boon of city committee positions open,” Weese said. “Anybody who is interested in volunteering for the city ... we want you all. This is our official start to the recruitment period, where we’ll be recruiting for up to 39 open positions.”

People can pick up applications at ci.florence.or.us or Florence Public Works, 2675 Kingwood St. The starting date will be in February 2019.

“I just would encourage anybody that is interested in serving their city to get an application for one of the committees that available, and get it in,” Woodbury said at the close of the meeting.


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