Auburn Mayor Ron Anders has created task forces and altered the format of City Council meetings after taking office earlier this month.
Two council members lead each of the four task forces that focus on four prominent issues in Auburn.
“There were four items I felt like needed immediate attention from the Council and needed immediate discussion,” Anders said. “Some of these are going to need public discussion.”
Anders also altered the format of City Council meetings to allow community members more opportunities to speak.
Citizens can now address the Council during citizens’ communications at the beginning of each meeting about any issue on that night’s agenda. The other opportunity to address the Council about any issue is at the end of the Council’s meeting during citizens’ open forum.
“I believe, and the Council believes, that it is worth it for us to see if there is a more efficient way of conducting our business and if there is a more inviting way for people to participate in the process,” Anders said.
Anders choose student housing, diversity, short-term rentals and board and commission appointments as the four issues for the issue-based task forces.
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He said those are the issues he felt needed the Council’s immediate attention. Some of these issues will require public input before the Council makes any decisions about any changes they would like to make.
These are just a few of the issues that were frequently brought up during Anders’ mayoral campaign.
Transparency was one of those issues that Anders is handling without task force.
“Transparency is very important,” Anders said. “Before the first two City Council meetings we have had work sessions that most of the Council has attended; where we have gone through the agenda — that has been a public meeting.”
Anders has streamed several City Council meetings to his Facebook page.
This is a short-term solution, Anders said.
“We have continued to do [stream] the City Council meetings through my Facebook site, and that will be the short-term what we will do,” Anders said.
He said he hopes streaming City Council and other public meetings will become the city’s job once Auburn’s new public safety building is up and running later this year. The new building will have professional recording equipment that will make streaming City Council meetings easy.
“I believe we are taking the necessary steps to become a more transparent City Council,” Anders said. “I say that saying we are not where we want to be, but we’re going to get there.”
Growth was also a hot topic of Anders’ campaign. He said the city’s growth needs to be managed so it does not outgrow its available resources.
When considering new developments, the Council and other city leaders need to examine the city and determine if the city can support the new development.
This means asking questions, like how the new development will impact emergency services, sewer services and school systems, and whether the roads near the development can handle the added traffic.
“We will take all of that into consideration as we look at annexing property,” Anders said. “We have to.”
Anders is looking forward to working with the new Council on these issues and many more throughout the next four years.
“They are a group that is enthusiastic,” Anders said. “They are energized. I look forward to hearing their thoughts and their ideas.”
He does have some experience dealing with these types of issues. Anders has served on the City Council since 2012, and has served as mayor pro-tem since 2014.
Anders said he has a perspective that is based on experience that he can bring to the table at each Council meeting and in other governing aspects. He feels prepared to serve as mayor because of his amount of experience on the City Council.
Though becoming mayor is an adjustment, Anders said, he is working to adjust his schedule and pattern of life to best serve Auburn.
“It’s an awesome honor and it’s an awesome responsibility,” Anders said.
“It’s certainly exciting to be in a position to lead this really vibrant and growing, wonderful city,” Anders said. “I look forward to the work.”
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