This is a fun one! Rochester city council Vice President Dana Miller filled me in on what kind of vice president he is (hint: not a Dan Quayle) and how there is fierce competition between the public commenters at council meetings.
Q: How is being the vice president of the Rochester city council similar to being vice president of the United States?
A: The jobs are similar in that the vice president of city council and the vice president of the United States serve as a backup for the president.
Q: Do you see yourself more as a Joe Biden or a Dick Cheney?
A: It’s interesting–I met Joe Biden. It turns out, we both have two sons, we were both married in 1977, we both have sisters named Valerie who worked on our campaigns. So I find myself having an affinity for Joe Biden and being there as a person who could step in for the president–and not necessarily be a shadowy figure who’s actually pulling the strings.
Q: “Shadowy figure?” Sir, are you telling me that you have never shot one of your friends in the face while bird hunting?
A: I can absolutely say with certainty that I have not shot any of my friends in the face while bird hunting.
Q: Do you bring a different personality or energy to the meetings when you preside?
A: I would like to think so. We have a session before the council meeting starts called Speak to Council where people can talk about any topic they want. I like to ensure that people are knowing they are welcome to be there. I like to give them some eye contact.
A: We have the A List, which are things that are going to be discussed that evening. And the B List, which is everything else. The A Listers get to go first. The B Listers tend to be people who come to every council meeting and they always have something to discuss. The B Listers kind of compete to see who is going to be the last speaker. That’s interesting to watch.
Q: For the other council members, are they behaving like their normal selves on camera, or are we seeing a different version of them?
A: One of the fears of the cameras was that people would be different. When I first joined council, I argued for the fact that we should broadcast the meeting. I was greeted with “over my dead body” by some people–all of whom are no longer on council.
A: There was a great fear that people would be playing to the cameras or going on long-winded diatribes just to get airtime. I’ve not really seen that.
Q: The Rochester City council has a newsletter. And the name of the newsletter…I want to pronounce this correctly…THE CITY COUNCIL CHRONICLE! Who do I have to talk to to get that named changed?!
A: I would encourage you to sign up for the B List and make your case. I’m sure we would listen intently.
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