Episode 39

October 09, 2023


Stories from ICMA Austin - Meet a half dozen other communities and their managers

Hosted by

Alex Torpey
Stories from ICMA Austin - Meet a half dozen other communities and their managers
Hanover Happenings
Stories from ICMA Austin - Meet a half dozen other communities and their managers

Oct 09 2023 | 00:32:03


Show Notes

I had the pleasure to attend the annual conference of the International City/County Management Association last week in Austin Texas and wanted to bring you some stories from Town Managers from across the country. Nearly 6,000 local government managers and professionals gathered from around the world to work on every issue you could possibly imagine (Learn about ICMA here).

For this conference, I was also selected as one of two town managers by the Municipal Management Association of New Hampshire, along with Karen Conard, the City Manager of Portsmouth, to represent our state at a 4-hour in-depth session looking at the municipal manager's role in facilitating or making change in a community, a deep dive into the dynamics that can enable or disable local progress. Here are some of the other sessions I attended:

  • Making Engagement Exciting
  • Strategic Budgeting: Integrating Budgeting and Performance
  • New Skills for Managing Difficult Conversation (put on by Braver Angels)
  • Navigating the Future of Work
  • It's About Damn Time: Women Leading in Public Service
  • Capturing and Transferring Institutional Knowledge
  • Build Government Teams that are Healthy and Strong

Beyond going to and/or presenting at various sessions, the fun and meaningful part of going to conferences like this is getting to meet tons of interesting folks that are ultra passionate about finding ways to help their communities address some of their biggest challenges. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on, learning about what other people are doing, and workshopping ideas that we can all take back to our day-to-day.

I wanted to bring a small slice of the conference to you all, and so I managed to grab a few quick 3-5 minute discussions with a number of city and town managers and other attendees from all around the country. Check out the conversations below and learn a little bit about what's happening in local government outside of the Upper Valley!

  1. Anna Gruber, City Manager for Sartell Minnesota, and Nikki Sweeter, Engagement Director of for the City of Sartell, Minnesota
    1. Sartell, MN: https://www.sartellmn.com/
  2. Brian Platt, City Manager for Kansas City, Missouri (and former colleague/friend from New Jersey)
    1. Kansas City, MO: https://www.kcmo.gov/
    2. Kansas City's 3,100 acre solar project: https://flatlandkc.org/news-issues/details-of-massive-kc-solar-project-begin-to-emerge/
  3. Nick and Josh, two public administration students from University of South Florida student members of their local ICMA chapter
    1. Local student ICMA chapters: https://icma.org/student-chapters
  4. Dustin Stambaugh, City Administrator for Ellsworth, Kansas
    1. Ellsworth Kansas: https://www.ellsworthks.net/
  5. Kyle Laws, City Manager for West Point, Utah
    1. West Point Utah: https://www.westpointcity.org/
  6. Alisha James, Assistant Town Manager for Winter Park, Colorado and Jen Reichelt, Deputy City Administrator for Yuma, Arizona
    1. Winter Park, CO: https://wpgov.com/
    2. Website: https://www.yumaaz.gov
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: You. [00:00:00] Speaker B: Hi everybody. This is Alex Torpey, your town manager, here with a special Spotlight episode. This past week, I had the pleasure to attend the annual conference for the International City County Management Association. This took place in Austin, Texas, with nearly 60 local government professionals, mostly county, city and town managers, who gathered from around the country and around the world to work on every issue you could possibly imagine. Got a couple quick interviews with about a half a dozen folks that I wanted to share with you, so you get a little bit of a flavor of what people were talking about and working on there. Now before I get to those quick interviews, a little bit more about the conference. So I was also selected as one of two managers by the Municipal Management Association of New Hampshire, along with Karen Canard, the city manager of Portsmouth, to represent our state at a four hour in depth session looking at the municipal manager's role in facilitating or making change in a community. So this was a deep dive into dynamics that can enable or disable local progress. I also attended a handful of other sessions such as Making Engagement Exciting Strategic Budgeting, Integrating Budgeting and Performance new Skills for Managing Difficult Conversations, which was put on by Braver Angels navigating the Future of Work it's about damn time. Women leading in public service, capturing and transferring institutional knowledge, and building government teams that are healthy and strong and beyond going to and or presenting at various sessions. The fun and meaningful part of going to conferences like this, I think, is getting to meet tons of interesting people that are really passionate about finding ways to help their communities address some of their biggest challenges. I really enjoy sharing what I'm working on and what we're working on here in Hanover, learning about what other people are doing, and workshopping ideas that we can all take back with us to our day to day. So I wanted to bring the small slice of the conference to all of you. I didn't bring back any barbecue, but I did bring back a bunch of three to four minute discussions with a number of city and town managers and other attendees from all around the country. So check out the following conversations and learn a little bit about what's happening in local government outside the Upper Valley. What will be upcoming in just a moment is conversations with Anna Gruber, the City Manager, and Nikki Sweeter, the engagement director for the City of Sartel, Minnesota brian Platt, the City Manager for Kansas City, Missouri and a former colleague and friend from New Jersey. Nick and Josh, two young public administration students from the University of South Florida who are part of their local ICMA chapter. Dustin Stambaugh, the city administrator for Ellsworth Kansas. Kyle Laws, the city manager for West Point, Utah, and Alicia James, the assistant town manager for Winter Park, Colorado, and Jen Reichelt, the deputy city administrator for Yuma, Arizona. So I hope you enjoy this little slice of the ICMA conference. [00:02:51] Speaker A: All right, so we're back in the Austin Convention Center, and I am here with Anna and Nikki from Sartel, Minnesota. How's it going? [00:02:59] Speaker C: It's going awesome. Yeah, we're great. It's good to be here. It's our first ICMA, actually, for both of us. [00:03:05] Speaker A: Okay, so wait, what brought you out here this year? [00:03:09] Speaker C: We came out to present about a video series that we've been doing in Sartel to just try to engage with community members. We had a massive road construction project where a lot of our town was shut down. And so we did a fun video series and have kind of expanded on that, did a presentation. It was a great way to just share some of the things that are going on in Sartel. [00:03:31] Speaker A: Yeah. And I came to that session the other day and thought it was pretty cool. And there were some Parks and Rec. [00:03:36] Speaker C: Parodies in there always. Yeah, we had to tie that in. Of course, I take pride in being the Leslie Note of so there's no shame there. [00:03:48] Speaker A: Right. I'm on more of the Ben Wyatt track. I was a young mayor, fortunately did not bankrupt my town. Now city know it's a funny these things really do play out in real life. [00:03:58] Speaker C: They really do. It is it's a little eerie. We often joke about how our mayor is Ron Swanson, so he played that part in our video too. It was pretty funny. [00:04:08] Speaker A: So tell folks in Hanover, tell us a little bit about Sartel. What's the community like? Describe it a little bit. Yeah. [00:04:14] Speaker C: So Sartel is located along the Mississippi River, almost dead Center, Minnesota. We are a suburb to the St. Cloud area. So like 20,000 people kind of noted as the place to live in central Minnesota as far as school districts and family friendly, safe. So we have originally a bedroom community. Nikki was born and raised there. And so it started out really as where people lived and went to school and then they'd commute into St. Cloud now. It's started to get bigger with industries and businesses, but originally based off of a paper mill, which then exploded in 2012. And so redeveloping around that and really more of like a med tech, professional type area now. So we both live there. Yeah, lots of young families that median age is that 35 year old. So everything we do kind of centers around the families in our community. All the events of our trail systems and everything. We always kind of have that in mind when we do things. A lot of youth sports we're kind of known as. We have a premier baseball facility, youth baseball facility that brings in hundreds of tournaments and amateur baseball and hockey. Know, you walk around and there's a lot of progressive youth energy in the community. So exciting. [00:05:41] Speaker A: Well, I would say I had never been to Minnesota, but two years ago I drove across the country and on my way back, I spent a little bit of time going through Wisconsin and Minnesota and was camping out in some of the national forests around there and loved it. It was so very similar to New Hampshire, very forested, but way more lakes. It was amazing. [00:06:01] Speaker C: Everywhere you go there's a body of water lakes. [00:06:04] Speaker A: And there seemed to be a lot of interest in bigfoot. [00:06:10] Speaker C: Can you tell us a little bit about bigfoot and Paul Bunyan? I don't know what the obsession is. Like both made up characters. Well, it's jack links that's beef jerky companies in Minnesota and they have now taken this bigfoot and marketed run with it. So the craze right now, I really feel like that was about 20 years ago. They started this bigfoot campaign and people are still searching for it. I don't know. [00:06:36] Speaker A: I didn't see them when I was. [00:06:37] Speaker C: Yeah, no, but hey, I'm glad you got to experience some of the forests. We've talked as we've been down here. I'm like, oh, this is a cool city and whatever, but even though it's bitterly cold in the winter, it is such a hidden gem in Minnesota. The green space and forests and lakes and just how clean everything is. And I don't know, I'm biased because I've lived there my whole life, but it's a cool place. [00:07:03] Speaker A: Yeah, well, that's great. Well, I appreciate you sharing stuff at the session yesterday and telling folks in Hanover a little bit about what's happening. [00:07:11] Speaker C: In come check out New Hampshire. Like I've never been there anytime. [00:07:15] Speaker A: It's a similar think that won't scare you. I'm actually heading back tonight and after the sort of heat and humidity here, I'm very much looking forward to going back to all the fall colors in New England. [00:07:31] Speaker C: We're ready for that. [00:07:32] Speaker A: Bring it on. [00:07:33] Speaker C: It was 94 in Minnesota, had a heat wave. It's like warmer there than here. [00:07:38] Speaker A: I don't know. [00:07:39] Speaker C: But we're ready to go back to fall colors. It's going to cool off when we get back. [00:07:42] Speaker A: We'll celebrate harsh winters and beautiful. [00:07:43] Speaker C: I know it's coming. [00:07:44] Speaker A: Beautiful fall colors. Anytime you want to come to New Hampshire, let me know. [00:07:47] Speaker C: Absolutely. [00:07:48] Speaker A: Thank you both. All right, so I am back in the convention center in Austin and I am here with an old New Jersey friend, Brian Platt. You were the business administrator in Jersey city. You're now in Kansas City, Missouri. How's it going so far? It's been great. What an interesting experience. We were just talking about how different government can be between different states and the issues that you face with those different types of government. But also what's interesting is a lot of the things that I'm doing in Kansas City, Missouri, I did in Jersey City, New Jersey. A lot of the issues that cities face are it's the same things you're talking about crime and homelessness and development and picking up trash. It's all the same. It's just sort of the local context that drives you to slightly different solutions sometimes. It's just been a really fun experience. And so tell us a little bit about what is Kansas City like for folks that have never been there. Paint us a word picture. Yeah, it's the Midwest and so the people are really nice and just really just good neighbors to each other. We're all about the chiefs, really into those chiefs. And Patrick Mahomes and now I guess Taylor Swift because of the whole Kelsey connection there for those that follow. I don't know where you're okay, Google her later. But it's got a lot of opportunity in Kansas City. It's really interesting that it's sort of not finished its growth cycle yet. It's about to become a place where lots of people want to move and add new jobs and new companies and new buildings. It's got a little bit of everything though, you can get inside Kansas City. There are people with farms and cows. There are people who live in high rise apartment buildings that are very small and very expensive and everything in between. It's a really fun mix of all those things and what are some of the biggest projects. I know there's a lot of it sounded like there were some sustainability in solar initiatives, which is something also that we've done a little bit in Hanover folks really love what are some other things that are sort of like on the radar right now. So I've been here just about three years. The first couple of years we're just sort of getting the operation back on track, making sure we're delivering the highest quality of government services. We're fixing all the complaints that you hear anywhere, potholes and plumbing, snow and all that stuff. Fixed all that. We're doing record amount of street resurfacing now. 469 lane miles last year. Wow. 3.3 times more. The annual average. We used to do we plow the snow now we never used to. It was just the city would shut down for days when it snowed, things like that. Sustainability is a big focus of ours now. We're working on building one of the largest solar rates in the United States at our airport. Could be up to 500 MW on about 3100 acres of land. We're on, of course, to plant 10,000 trees over the next three years. Probably more than that actually. We're doing a lot of those little things that cities do, like converting our street lights to LEDs. Right. We have 90,000 street lights. So the scale of that conversion is the same as taking 6000 cars off the road. Wow. It's a crazy impact you can have in a city of this size and then with those so we're doing an Led conversion and we're going to have the ability to control and so you're going to be on your phone controlling the lights. We're actually not there yet. Okay. We just wanted to do the bulb conversion first just to get the dollar set. We're saving $5 million a year. Incredible. It's unbelievable. Just because we have so many street lights. And then there will be a point where we probably start to think about controllers and all the other technology you can put into it. But yeah, it's all those fun things that you could do in a small town at such a bigger scale that the impact is just phenomenal. Right. It's fun. A very good selling point for folks that are interested in getting involved in things and getting involved at the local level because the impact is so right in front of you. Yeah. And I think people assume that someone's thought about this or done it before. And I came to Kansas City and things that I did years ago in New Jersey, they had not even considered yet. Zero emissions electric vehicle policy. No one even thought about it. And we did it in Jersey City. We're doing it now in Kansas City. It's the little things like that that just on a bigger scale just have so much impact. It's been great. That's great. Now, is there anything in particular that you were hoping to get out of the conference here? Any particular issue you wanted to workshop out or anything like that? Yeah, I think things that are top of mind, homelessness, that's a big issue for a lot of cities. Sustainability and things like solar arrays and all that kind of stuff. I think there's just, for me, liking to pressure test all the things we're doing, listening to people talk and asking questions and saying, what are you doing about homelessness? How are you building your solar array? Making sure we're not missing something. I think that's one of the biggest benefits that I get from places like this. Agreed. Now the question on everybody's mind. So we're in Texas. Kansas City barbecue. Texas barbecue. Is there a it's different. It's different, actually. I obviously have to be partial to Kansas City barbecue, but even within Kansas City, there's so many different nuances to it. It's funny. I got to town and I had to try them all. There are dozens of these. And it is sort of like wine in a sense. That's what people say, where once you start to have it, you can notice the different flavors and undertones and learn about how it's made and that kind of thing. Kansas City is more sauce based. Austin is more of a dry rub. Texas more of a dry rub, and Kansas City is more of a sweet sauce. Some of the North Carolina and other parts of the country are more of a tangy or vinegary kind of can. I enjoy and appreciate Austin and Texas barbecue, but I'm very much a fan of Kansas City barbecue. Yeah, I got to get out there and try all the different I didn't know there were so many variations. I mean, you could spend a week every meal eating barbecue, and still in my head, that sounds great. What also is cool about Kansas City, the locals, we are a barbecue town, but when the locals say are asked, like, what are your top ten restaurants? You're not even talking about barbecue yet. I mean, there are so many great restaurants and bars and fun things, and then maybe at number 25 or 30, you're starting to get into the barbecue restaurant. So it's just a fun sort of like hidden gem in the middle of the country. No one really talks about Kansas City or knows about it, and it's fun to sort of help put it on the map a little bit. Yeah, well, it sounds like there's some pretty cool things happening out there. And thanks for sharing a little bit of that with our residents in Hanover. [00:13:55] Speaker D: Anytime. [00:13:56] Speaker A: Go Chiefs. All right, so I'm back in the convention center, and I'm here with Nick and Josh, two young folks starting to make me feel older. I don't know how I feel about that. And they're both studying public administration. And maybe Josh and Nick, tell us a little bit about kind of what you're working on, where you're from, what you're studying, and why you came to the conference here. Okay, so my name is Nicholas. I'm from University of South Florida. I'm currently in my MPA program. So we came here because we were involved in the student chapter. I'm the student chapter president in Florida, and Josh here is a member. And we came for the conference here. This is actually our second conference for both of us, but I think the second one and I was telling Josh, and he was telling me too, that it's much more. We get a lot more from it because your first one, you don't know anybody, you're getting connections, and you're beautiful, but the second time you come, you know some familiar faces, you know where to go, things to do. So I think I personally am getting a lot more out of the second one, which is this one. And there's a lot of student stuff to do for this one. We had a symposium where we had to tackle, like, a community or county issue, and we had to make a presentation. I think we're going to present today at 04:00 p.m.. So there's a lot more things that students can get together, student sessions to do compared to the previous one. So as a student chapter president or being involved in the MBA program, I'm getting a lot out of it. That's great. And Josh. What about you? I would say getting the best thing out of this conference has just been the networking, getting ready to meet people, and just how open the higher ups are to help us out. That means a lot, trying to give us guidance and wisdom, even you, Alex, we've talked to you for about ten minutes now, and you've given us a lot of advice about where we think we want to go, and we're just excited for the next step in our career. That's exciting. And we definitely need I mean, a lot of the conversations at these sort of conferences are about a lot of folks retiring from government right now, and that we need new people and new generations coming in. What are some of the challenges or opportunities that you see? What's something that each of you would really love? If you got to work on one big issue in a local government capacity, what would that issue be? And we were talking about this. I would say the structure. Anything to do to kind of tailor the structure to I don't want to say modern times, but tailor the structure to how we can improve public administration as a whole. Because the whole top down, like manager on top hierarchy, it doesn't really work in a modern day time where it's like you want a work environment where it's all inclusive, where the structure is flexible. The modern day work environment is totally different from the old hierarchy thing. Structure is really important. Changing the structure so that we can get a lot more out of public administration as a whole, rethinking some assumptions and redesigning some things is great. And what about you, Josh? What do you think? At a local level? Although I see this at every level, I say probably the biggest thing to uphold is individual freedom. I think that's extremely important, making sure that there's enough opportunity for everyone who's willing to and qualified to do so. I think as long as the local government level conveys to the people that they're willing to help uphold freedom so people will be able to get involved and get behind policies. Right. Have either of you ever been to New Hampshire? No. I was going to say come up in a couple months when it starts snowing, if you're from Florida, and that's going to be quite the experience. Yeah, floridians have never seen snow. No, and not like we've got up there. Yeah, floridians don't do cold really well. Even when it hits, like, 70s, everybody's wearing a jacket. Even when it's like in the 80s, it's wearing jackets. Right. And if you come up to New Hampshire in the winter, you will see people in, like, ten degrees walking around in our shorts, riding their bikes to work in the snow and ice. And I'm still adjusting because I've only been there for a year. Wow. But it was really great to meet you both and just thank you for your interest and passion in coming into this field. Thank you. And we'll make sure to bring our snowshoes and come visit. Exactly. We'll come for bed. Extra jackets. Extra jackets, for sure. Thank you. All right, folks. So I'm here with Dustin Stanbaugh, the city administrator in Ellsworth, Kansas. Dustin, how's it going? Good. [00:18:45] Speaker E: How are you doing, sir? [00:18:46] Speaker A: Pretty good. So tell us a little bit about Ellsworth. [00:18:50] Speaker E: Ellsworth is a community of about 3000 residents. We have two major manufacturers, cash Co. They produce a lot of parts for your pump systems and all that. [00:19:02] Speaker A: Okay. [00:19:02] Speaker E: We also and farming equipment is our other major commodity. And we've got a state prison which. [00:19:08] Speaker A: Helps with the revenue. And so you're coming from Colorado to Kansas. What has that transition been like? [00:19:17] Speaker E: I have to adjust to the rural mindset and more of the conservative mindset, but overall, their neighborly, their friendliness, their support of their community is huge. And they've accepted my family and I am blessed. [00:19:34] Speaker A: That is great. We were talking a little just a moment ago about some of the similarities between the sort of very small town neighborly culture in New England and out in the Midwest as well. And so we're out in Austin, Texas, obviously. ICMA conference. Is this your first one? And if it is, my first national. Okay. And what brought you out here? What were you sort of hoping to get out of it? [00:19:54] Speaker E: I am interested in bridging the rural and urban divide in Kansas. There is a disparity between a resource allocation between the urban areas and the rural areas specifically. My focus is on public works infrastructure and getting our pipes updated because our pipes, like most, are really old. [00:20:13] Speaker A: That sounds super interesting. And have you found panels and workshops here that speak to some of that? [00:20:18] Speaker E: Absolutely. [00:20:19] Speaker A: So some good ideas to take back home. Yes. Nice. Well, anything else you want to share with the residents of Hanover, New Hampshire? [00:20:27] Speaker E: Thank you for allowing Alex to come here and I enjoy connecting with people like him. [00:20:33] Speaker A: Well, I appreciate that and hopefully we'll get to stay in touch. It sounds like we've got some similar things that we're working on in our communities, so thank you, Dustin. [00:20:40] Speaker E: Thank you, Alex. [00:20:42] Speaker A: All right, so back in the Austin Convention Center and I've been having an interesting conversation with some folks from West Point, Utah. And so Kyle, you're the city manager out there. Tell us a little bit about West Point, Utah. [00:20:56] Speaker D: All right, well, West Point is in the northern Davis County area of the state, north of Salt Lake, south of Ogden, just to the west of Hill Air Force Base and nestled right next to the Great Salt Lake. And we are a city of about 12,000 population, very fast growing community. Our build out population is probably close to 40,000. So we have a lot of room for growth. That's probably the biggest challenge that we have right now. But we have a new state highway coming through the city and some opportunities that that can bring us with a new interchange and some retail and commercial development. We have some of the big issues for the state, though, are affordable housing and just accommodating and trying to capture the growth that's coming into the state over the next 20 or 30 years. And for West Point, a lot of that's coming to us because we're some of the last remaining open property in our county. So we're dealing with annexations, like I said, new highway coming through and just growth and development. But it's a great place, very family friendly feeling in our community and throughout the Wasatch front. And yeah, it's a fun place to be, lots going on. [00:22:30] Speaker A: And I was saying on my trip two years ago, spent some wonderful time out in Utah, some of the clearest, darkest skies I've ever seen, beautiful landscapes. Is there like a tourism population that comes through? Like looking for natural recreation kind of stuff too? [00:22:48] Speaker D: Yeah, for sure there is. We have five national parks in Utah, so there's a huge tourism industry. Most of that is in the southern part of the state, and there are lots of you get down into those national parks and the sky is amazing. You can see millions of stars. And it's just a great place to go visit and see up in our part of the state in the wintertime, there's a lot of skiing and snowboarding, so that industry is really popular and big, but there's lots to do recreation wise in the state of Utah. [00:23:27] Speaker A: Nice. Well, thanks for sharing a little bit about your community. Now is there anything that you were specifically hoping to learn about coming to ICMA here? It sounded like you all had come here, this is not your first year. Any workshops or topics that really stuck out with you? [00:23:45] Speaker D: I don't know. I love coming to ICMA for just the networking, the kind of getting away from the day to day grind. But yeah, there's been some really good sessions. Probably my favorite one and one that's really on top of my mind right now is just new councils coming in. I went to a session on new council orientations and onboarding and just kind of connecting with those new council members and helping them understand what their new role is and how to help them be successful and educating them on how the city runs. So that was a really helpful session that I think I can take a lot from and help our new council as elections change those members out. [00:24:27] Speaker A: Well, thanks for sharing a little bit about that and good luck with everything back home in West Point, Utah. Thanks. So I'm in the Austin Convention Center again and I'm here with Alicia and Jen and they just finished up a really interesting panel and maybe Alicia and Jen tell us a little bit about the towns where you're from and what brought you to ICMA at Austin this year. [00:24:50] Speaker F: Sure, well, I'm the assistant town manager for Winter Park, Colorado, which many probably know from visiting. For skiing we have a world class ski resort. [00:24:58] Speaker A: We don't know anything about that in New Hampshire. [00:25:00] Speaker F: It's a truly terrible place to work. I'm just kidding. It's absolutely amazing. [00:25:04] Speaker A: And how long have you been there? [00:25:06] Speaker F: Almost four years. [00:25:07] Speaker A: Okay, cool. [00:25:09] Speaker F: And I'm Jen Reicheld. I'm the deputy city administrator in Yuma, Arizona. It's southwest, as far south as you can get, really. We're about ten minutes from Mexico, but it's a community about 100,000, and yeah, we're a big agricultural community. If you eat any winter greens, any greens in the winter, they're all coming from Yuma. So it's a good place to be. And I've been there, I grew up there. Yuma is my hometown. I left for a long time. I moved back during COVID so I've been there about three years now. [00:25:35] Speaker A: And what's it like being a manager in your hometown? [00:25:38] Speaker F: Yeah, if you'd asked me when I was 18, I'd be like, hell no, I'm never coming back here. But I actually think now, looking back, it's been one of my best life decisions. I love the organization, and I really think being able to serve in a community that you have ties to is really important, and it kind of makes my job feel even more important, or I feel like I want to do really good things for my community because I'm so invested. It's where my parents live, it's where my family is. So yeah, I'm glad to be back. [00:26:07] Speaker A: Yeah, that's pretty great. [00:26:10] Speaker F: I was going to say so this year we did a session on raising and elevating women's leadership, but next year I think we should do the Colorado River because I'm at the headwaters of the Colorado and Jen is where the Colorado would meet. Yeah, that's true. Well, we have water this year right. [00:26:25] Speaker A: Now, and there's no debates or arguments about anything happening with the river. [00:26:29] Speaker F: Just another strange connection. We have Colorado River. But I've been coming to ICMA, so I started local government in 2000. I've pretty much been coming to ICMA conferences every year. There's probably three or four years I didn't make it, but it's been a big annual thing. I enjoy it. I think it's an opportunity to really hear what's happening in the profession. You hear from your colleagues and I leave refreshed. It's sort of like you're re energized, you get excited about what you're doing, I think, too, it's easy at your desk in the day to day to get stuck in the details, and I just said the day to day, but the day to day. And as leaders, we really have to think about the long term and the higher level work, and it's sometimes hard to find space or time to think about that. And so coming to a conference like this helps re situate you in that long term, bigger level thinking. And I think that's often why I go home feeling re energized. I think for me, I often hear, even though I'm in the Southwest, you may be facing the same issues in New Hampshire or folks in Massachusetts. [00:27:31] Speaker C: Our. [00:27:31] Speaker F: Communities are all different but a lot of the issues are the same. Right. We're dealing with a lot of the same things that we want in our community that our residents need, that are important to us. So everybody has different personalities and everybody's community is different but a lot of the issues are the same. And so I think it reminds me that because when we talk about what we're facing or dealing with it's like you're not alone. I have colleagues in Colorado or Oregon who might be dealing with the same thing. [00:27:57] Speaker A: Well, that's one of the nice things. When you're in a room like this and someone brings up something and everybody in the room agrees and you're like, Right, that thing that I thought was only in my head, there's 5000 other people here who are going through the very same thing. Exactly. And that is helpful I think too. [00:28:13] Speaker F: Local government can be a little bit of an isolating profession, right. Saying it's lonely at the top. Well, we have a couple of people you can work with on that, but that's still pretty isolating. And so being able to go talk to colleagues who are operating at your same level and find that connection and see those commonalities, it also becomes your support network in the profession, right. Where some people have that with all of their colleagues at work, sometimes we have to go step outside to find that. Like Alicia and I met through an ICMA conference. We were on a panel together now four years. Well, we were on one in Portland, I guess three or four years. Yeah. But we kind of created and kept with that relationship. So it's been good to have that network and that friendship. But it's through ICMA we've never worked together. [00:28:58] Speaker A: Right. That's interesting. That's a great example of why these gatherings are so valuable. Yeah. Well, thank you for doing all the work that you do and for doing the session today. And any final thoughts? Especially if I don't know anybody listening who isn't involved in local government and maybe is thinking about it as a way to make a difference in a kind of crazy world where we feel like a lot of things are sort of out of reach. Especially there's been a lot of jokes throughout the last couple of days. What's happening at the federal level with the shutdown could never happen in our workplaces. There's just too much a we can't print money, but B, there's too much accountability for making sure everything is working. And I think there's a lot of young folks who are also interested in finding ways to have a really practical impact on the world. Any thoughts or advice for people? [00:29:53] Speaker F: When I was in college, I knew I wanted to be involved in government and I really thought I was going to end up in DC. That's where I saw myself. That's where the decision makers are. That's where I can make a change. And I quickly realized after several trips to DC that they were not making changes that impacted my daily life. The decisions that were really happening, that impacted communities, was happening at a local level. So I always say when I talk to students, I talk about local government is grassroots, like what we do at City Hall. The decisions we make impact people's daily lives, like your trash, your water, public safety, where we put in streetlights, those are things that impact people, their safety, and just how they get to work in the morning. So I feel like, for me, I would encourage people, you can really make a difference. You can have a lasting legacy. And by making your community where you live a better place, I always frame it as, in local government, you get to work on your community's most important problems. They might be the same all over the country, but you get to dive in and work on the problem of the day. So I get to work on a ton of affordable housing. Well, I think there's a lot of college students who are really passionate about working on affordable housing. Well, you could try to go to DC and work for HUD or one of the federal agencies, but when I see them at conferences, they don't look very so I think we get to go build actual affordable housing. We get to do ribbon cuttings for affordable housing. We made it happen even without federal subsidies. And so if you want to work on affordable housing, if you want to work on police reform, if you want to work on the problems of the day, local government is probably your space, actually get to implement and make change. So it's not just the policy we get to set. Well, often our council sets policy, but we get to implement it. We may get to have recommendations into it, but we get to actually do the work, which is actually very exciting. And apologies to any really happy Hub employee, right? [00:31:44] Speaker A: That's true. But you can't argue with the results at the local level and how practical it is. Well, thank you both for sharing a little bit. [00:31:50] Speaker F: Thanks, Alex. Thank you.

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