This past Tuesday was Election Day in the United States, which means there were plenty of city council races to keep track of. We provide you with some updates on a handful of city councils profiled on previous podcast episodes.
Nancy LaRoche may be a new council member in Crystal, but she has been observing the meetings for quite some time. She told me that after the council changed its rules, meetings have gotten much friendlier. Plus, all of you animal lovers will hear about the council’s tiny unofficial mascot!
Q: You are in your fifth month of city council meetings and the one thing the people want to know: WHO is Bart?!
A: Bart is a box elder bug that I named and gave a title to! My first night, Bart made his presence known on the dais. I watched him walk from one end to the other towards me and I went, “what a curious little fellow.”
Q: Ha! Would you call Bart a regular council attendee?
A: Yes. As a matter of fact, he seemed to favor [city manager Anne Norris] because one meeting he landed on her face, hung out on her cheek for a little bit, and then made his way down and hung out on her hand.
A: She was trying to get my attention but I was so engrossed being a new council member that I didn’t notice him with her.
Q: Does your accepting–and some would say cavalier–attitude about Bart send a message to any citizen that they can bring their box elder bug into the council meetings?
A: [Laughs] Well, they might be subject to one council member’s extreme disdain for box elder bugs. I heard a few slams on the counter. So, fair warning.
Q: Who is this Butcher of Crystal to whom you’re referring?
A: That was our Council Member Jeff Kolb.
Q: You mentioned that the previous council members changed some rules about how the meetings operate. Why did they do that?
A: If you go back to council meetings prior to 2015, you will see the tenor and the tone quite changed from the way it is now. I think that was the decisive reason why those things were done. When a citizen is watching these meetings, it seems more of a personality conflict. Winning was more important than carrying on with the city’s business.
Q: So it’s not just that you got two new council members this year and everything was resolved. The old council said, “our procedures are making us not get along.”
A: The procedures back then left it wide open. I remember sitting in one meeting where they kept arguing about moving an agenda item–and it was because they could. It was more to antagonize either the mayor or the other council members. I believe they had a mediator come in because things were getting so difficult.
A: If you come back to now, it’s much more professional. Things are moving smoothly.
Q: Did more people show up to watch back then in case something wild happened?
A: I believe attendance is probably the same. But that lack of attendance might be speaking to the fact that overall, people are pleased with the level of services. Also, people are busy, so they watch us online. Our streamed meetings get quite a lot of views.
Q: Well, most of those views were from me. I’m sorry for goosing your numbers this week!
Follow Council Member Nancy LaRoche on Twitter: @nwlaroche