Interview #12: Jefferson City, MO Mayor Carrie Tergin

Last month was International #CityHallSelfie Day, and one particular mid-council meeting collage caught my eye:

Turns out, this artwork came from Jefferson City, Missouri’s shutterbug Mayor Carrie Tergin. We got deep into selfies, public comments, and whether mayors are important.

Q: How many times per week do you take mayoral selfies?

A: Boy, I wish I counted! I’m a pretty active mayor. I have a big Facebook following. If I’m at an event and people see me, they say, “we want to get a selfie with the mayor!” It’s just kinda become my thing!

Q: Has anyone ever called you the Kim Kardashian of Central Missouri?

A: [Laughs] No! I’ve never, ever, ever had that impression, actually.

Q: Let’s try to make that a thing. In what circumstances other than #CityHallSelfie Day would you take a selfie during a council meeting?

A: That’s NEVER happened until City Council Selfie day. We’re at at the pre-meeting and–I have to give credit to two other council representatives: Councilwoman [Erin] Wiseman and Councilman [Ken] Hussey–both said during our pre-meeting, “did you know today’s #CityHallSelfie Day?” And I said, “What?!” That was not even on my radar! So they’re all laughing, then we went over to council chambers and took more selfies.

Q: We have some footage of those selfies:

A: When we present proclamations or if we have a group there, I always try to stop and say, “hey let’s get a picture.” Then I post it and share it. I know the council probably would say, “here she goes again, getting out her camera.” But for some people that come to city council to talk about what’s important to them, this is their moment to shine.

Q: And it might be the only time that person comes to a city council meeting, so you make it count. Which reminds me, during an interview in 2015, you said this:


How often did you show up to comment at city council meetings?

A: Probably several times a year. As we found the city taking down some older homes, I found myself at the podium a lot.

Q: What advice would you give Carrie Tergin, the public commenter, at being better at influencing Carrie Tergin, the mayor?

A: I think the key is to be precise and…

Q: Brief?

A: Focused. Brief is part of that. People come before the council and they don’t necessarily know what they’re asking for.

Q: At council meetings, what’s the difference between being mayor and a regular council member?

A: The mayor presides over the meeting, but doesn’t have a vote unless it’s a tie. Some would say, “you don’t have a vote, so are you really that important?” Absolutely. Even a mayor without a vote still is charged with guiding the council. The [former Mayor John] Landwehr Rule was, “you’re not gonna clap and you’re not gonna boo.”

Q: As mayor, do you now see public commenters from your days as a citizen and still have a connection with them?

A: Oh, yeah. Some of those folks that, we were together championing causes back in the early to mid-2000s, we’re still saying, “wow, look at how much we’re accomplishing now.”

Q: Do you think they see you as the one who “made it?”

A: No, it’s not about me. I think what they see is that they supported me, and their support is what was key.

Follow Mayor Carrie Tergin on Twitter: @CarrieTergin


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