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New Year’s Resolutions Encourage Trusting Local

by Richard Hickman,  Mayor, Angola, IN

President, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns

New Year’s resolutions can be cliché, so it’s amazing how many of us get sucked into making them each year.

Even if we don’t write them down or share them at parties, many of us still have at least a short list in our heads of the things we are going to accomplish or do differently this year.

2014 marks my 13th year of service as the mayor of Angola and I was recently elected President of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.  So, this year my resolutions are shall we say, fairly ambitious?

My New Year’s resolutions seek to reverse the thinking that has brought years of laws and mandates that assume all municipal governments in Indiana need to be painted with same broad brush and that governing our cities and towns from the statehouse is good public policy.  If I’m successful, lawmakers will trust local municipal leaders to serve their constituents.

Resolution #1 – Support Legislation that Trusts Local Decision Making

Good legislation that respects municipal governments’ role in serving our communities should be recognized.  I resolve to work with my fellow mayors and other city and town officials to show appreciation to legislators that sponsor legislation that gives deference to home rule.

Resolution #2 – Respond Quickly with our Facts and Expertise

When lawmakers consider bills that impact municipal governments I resolve to collaborate with my fellow municipal leaders to respond to their proposals with facts garnered from our day to day service on the front lines of our communities.  It seems entirely reasonable that lawmakers need this expertise in order to make informed decisions about bills impacting cities and towns and the constituents we both serve.

Resolution #3 – Engage in Problem Solving to Avoid Broad-brush Legislation

Often times, and more so in recent years, lawmakers use statewide legislation to address a local conflict or concern raised by one constituent.  I resolve to encourage municipal officials around the state to work cooperatively with legislators to engage them more in local problem solving in an effort to avoid one-size-fits-all legislation.  Solutions to town issues belong in town hall. I likewise encourage legislators to trust local officials to be the chief problem solvers in Hoosier communities.

Resolution #4 – Build Cooperative Relationships

I resolve to work hard to reach those inside the limestone with a message of cooperation that fosters trust and goodwill between lawmakers and my fellow elected and appointed city and town officials.  This tone could set the stage for more collaboration and hopefully an environment that allows lawmakers to leave local decision making in the hands of those trusted by voters to make such decisions.

Each New Year brings optimism and big thinking.  That’s no different whether you’re a mayor, legislator or constituent.  In this time of new beginnings and open-mindedness, I am hopeful that lawmakers can embrace the Trust Local message that I, the Indiana Conference of Mayors and IACT have resolved to pursue.

For more information on Trust Local visitwww.trustlocalindiana.com, on Twitter @TrustLocalIN, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/trustlocalindiana

  • Gene Poole

    Trust is at least a two way street, earned locally & often squandered at the West Market candy store; a regional or contract confectioner / emulator of the big box in a swamp, stupor store.

    Profit pursuits are legitimate free market enterprise. By contrast, those free market pursuits corrupt / pervert the purpose of our representative or Constitutional government; a place of public not self service. There is no gray or fuzzy line here- none!

    Autonomy & identity, begin with local inventory; that which makes every place unique, the irreplaceable resource of its people. Those elected who don’t convey a clear sense of unique origin or place aren’t leaders. That sense can’t be borrowed or leveraged. No TIF is required to take such inventory or vigorously include the ideas & interests of local people; if they’re trusted sufficiently & encouraged to be INCLUDED.

    Fast track, paddy whack, get mine now, little brother syndrome has produced the uninspired, redundant landscape of interstate architecture. Conventional notions of “branding” have done more to franchise convention than articulate any uniqueness of place.

    Travel teaches that locals give the worst directions; referencing local landmarks unfamiliar to travelers rather than directional coordinates, etc. Yet those unique landmarks are too often sacrificed in the pro forma pleasing name of “progress,” ill-defined in distant halls & board rooms.

    The following question is not intended to be antagonistic (!!!). Where’s the value or service (to locals, local flavor & even those who visit- let’s call them guests rather than outsiders) in over training fund monkeys to stack boxes & reach public bananas; vs locally / internally promote local heritage & uniqueness?

    Or in chamber of commerce terms, where’s the sugar footed emphasis on internal marketing; that most naturally likely or organically to produce results from the local level rather than borrowing at exorbitant DC via West Market rates?

    How is “progress” other than enlightened development?