Interview #145: Jefferson City, MO Mayor Carrie Tergin (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM, and right here:

Carrie Tergin, the #SelfieWithTheMayor extraordinaire, returns to review the 2019 top 10 city council selfies list. Later, she also reflects upon the council meeting that took place hours before two natural disasters struck Jefferson City.

Q: August 15 was International #CityHallSelfie Day, sponsored by our good friends at ELGL.org. Where would you like to start?

A: I’m going to start by saying there are some really great city hall selfies. Number six is going to be my number three. What I like about this is they were able to Photoshop their city hall in the backdrop of the selfie. You know what? If you can put city hall there, you can put city hall anywhere. That’s one of my top three.

Number five, he’s going to get an honorable mention because he’s really rocking an awesome hat. I gotta give him credit for his selfie with the hat because we all need our sun protection and everybody, wear your sunscreen. He gets an honorable mention for taking care of himself because as mayors, we don’t always do that!

Number three on your list is my number two: Port Adelaide Enfield, Australia. I thought, how cool! It’s international and I also liked it because it highlights the civic groups. It highlights this youth team and the next generation of leaders.

Your number one is my number one. Of course it’s the ’80s! The electric guitar–what is that movie with the “maniac–“?

Q: Flashdance!

A: Flashdance! The “maniac” shirt, I’d wear it to a council meeting if I had it. Then you get down to the Darth Vader and Princess Leia–it’s more like “Prince Leia.” It’s really well done. These two city hall selfies are way out in front.

Q: For the folks who have listened to this program now for three straight years and still have sat out for #CityHallSelfie Day, what can you say to persuade them that taking pictures at city hall is more than a millennial craze?

A: It’s an everyday craze for sure. The more you get into it, the more fun it is. I can be walking down the sidewalk and people will approach and say, “oh, you’re the mayor! Can we please take a selfie?” I love that because it means that people are recognizing their mayor and they want to be part of the story.

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Jefferson City, MO Mayor Carrie Tergin

Q: On May 22, you had an emergency council meeting in which you were hearing a lot about potential flooding in Jefferson City. Was the possibility of a tornado even on your radar?

A: No. Absolutely not. No way. Almost our only concern was this flood. Listening to [the meeting], you hear it and you want to say, “guys, here’s what’s getting ready to happen. Oh, my gosh, it’s coming!” You want to go out there with a warning and say, this tornado is coming in a matter of hours. It’s kind of wild to listen to that and know that that was hours before the tornado and here we were very focused on the flood.

Q: Ever since the flooding and tornado, almost every meeting for the past three months has had some mention of the disaster. Is the damage and the rescue and the recovery something that people need to talk about or is it something that people want to talk about?

A: It’s something that we’re living everyday. It’s not just a part of our conversation. It’s a part of our lives and it will be for years to come. #JCStrong is real. It’s a real thing. Communities have it. Not every community’s tested to the point where they have to know that. We are completely changed.


Follow Mayor Carrie Tergin on Twitter: @CarrieTergin

Special Feature! “Best Thing, Worst Thing”

This is an exciting new episode of the “Best Thing, Worst Thing” project. Usually, I storm into town, do some interviews, hear about the history, and package it together into a neat bundle for you. This time, we tag along with a few locals as they go about their day and get a more colorful listening experience.

For an explanation of the project, check out the page here. If you’re ready to hear a group of folks talk about the best thing about where they live and the worst thing about where they live, head over to the City Council Chronicles podcast to download the latest episode. Or you can play it below.

Episode 6: Colby, Kansas

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Photo source: Google Street View

Colby is technically a city of 5,400 people in the northwest corner of Kansas–but it’s tempting to call this a “small town.” Agriculture is important here, but Colby also has a community college and medical center. In this episode, we tag along to a Rotary Club meeting, participate in a tornado drill, and try not to get blown away by some fierce wind. We hear from a librarian, a hospital executive, a newspaper publisher, a principal, a tax preparer, and a retired city employee.

Interview #5: Galesburg, IL Reporter Marty Hobe

I once passed through Galesburg on a train and thought, “Well, well, well: THIS place seems like they’d have some funky city council meetings!”

Like usual, I was right. I talked to the grand poobah of G-Burg, Marty Hobe, who reports on the city council for The Register-Mail. He told me about costumed performers, the Burgnado, and Galesburg’s survivalist mayor.

Q: How many people show up to city council meetings?

A: You can get quite a few people. We had the local humane society looking for its annual grant from the city. Every year, they flood the chambers with people who talk about cute little puppies they save.

Q: Do they bring in puppies?

A: No, they’ve never brought in a puppy!

Q: Hmm.

A: Once–so, a historical figure from Galesburg was Mother Bickerdyke. She was a nurse in the Civil War. We built an overpass recently and the city council was deciding what they should name it. Our mayor said we should just call it the Seminary-Kellogg Street Bridge because it’s Seminary and Kellogg Streets it physically goes over. But someone dressed up in historically accurate garb as Mother Bickerdyke and addressed the council as Mother Bickerdyke, asking them to name the bridge after her. It was quite the performance!

Q: So…did she sway the votes?

A: Oh, yeah. It’s called the Bickerdyke Bridge today.

Q: Wow!

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Galesburg, IL city council reporter Marty Hobe

Q: Other than the ghost of Mother Bickerdyke, does anyone do public comment?

A: Not really. We have people who are frequently in the audience, but they won’t sit up to speak.

Q: Weird. What’s their deal?

A: I don’t know if they’re just dedicated civilians or–I know there was one woman who would come to meeting after meeting. Turns out she wanted to run for one of the open alderman seats, and she ended up winning.

Q: I heard things went sideways when they voted on the city manager’s raise. A 4-3 vote, right?

A: That was a bit of an awkward day, anytime you’re dealing with salaries. We’re not dealing with celebrity-type politicians. These are still real people.

Q: Marty, what is the Burgnado?

A: It’s a tornado drill. The city council sits in and the Knox County emergency response team, they role-play. It was a kind of a walk-through of what would happen should an F4 tornado come through and decimate Galesburg.

Q: What’s the city council supposed to do? 

A: Mostly informing the public…one of the messages was just basically, “take the information back to your constituents and stay out of our way.”

Q: If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one of the city council members, who would you choose?

A: Oh, I have to play favorites?

Q: You absolutely have to play favorites.

A: Probably our mayor, John Pritchard. He’s a pretty funny guy. He likes to joke around a lot.

Q: Ah, so he’d be good company on an island.

A: Exactly. He wouldn’t be boring.

Q: Did he knock it out of the park during the Burgnado drill?

A: I think so. He’s got a lot of survival instincts in him.

Q: Do you think he could spear a fish in the water and cook it on a makeshift fire?

A: I don’t know how quick he is with a spear. I’d have to see that first.


Follow Marty Hobe on Twitter: @mhobe55