Back into campaign and election season

In the Spring, I mentioned here that I was running for political office as a candidate for Richmond City Council here in Richmond, Indiana - my first real venture into politics.  I never did post an update on this blog that I won the Primary Election held in May (YAY!), and so now I'm on the ballot for consideration in the November general election.

Despite having lots of overlap in subject matter between my political efforts and my writings here, I will generally continue to keep my campaign-related news and updates on my ChrisOnCouncil.com website (BOOKMARK IT), and on my campaign Facebook page (LIKE IT) and Twitter account (FOLLOW IT).  But, I thought I'd give you a taste of some of the material my campaign is creating as we get back into that season.

You can watch a YouTube video interview with me:

Continue reading Back into campaign and election season

On the 2012 City Budget Process

This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series 2011 City Council Campaign

a security guard, a stack of papersIt's been an interesting experience to watch the 2012 budgeting process for the City of Richmond, being performed by the very City Council that I aspire to join.  If I'm elected, I'll be a part of a city government that is operating under the budget that's now being considered, so it feels even more important than usual to understand how the City is deciding where and how to spend money.

As I watched various department heads present their requested budgets for the upcoming year, I observed a few things:

  • It's been taken as a given that there will be no changes in compensation for any city staff.   I'm not sure if this happens because it's made clear at the outset that requests for compensation increases will be rejected, or because the staff already know that to be true, but it's got to be a challenging experience for city workers who know that cost of living is increasing and their own pay is staying level.  I know that when the citizens of a community are feeling limited in their own financial situation, it can be an easy target to claim that this person or that person in government is making too much money, and I'm sure in some cases, those claims might be true.  But I would also hope that as a community we can recognize the value of having our city run by professionals who are compensated fairly and equitably for their work. Continue reading On the 2012 City Budget Process

Why THIS city election matters

This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series 2011 City Council Campaign

All elections matter in one way or another.  Every elected official, no matter how unglamorous their office might seem or how routine their work is, has an impact on the lives of citizens in their communities.  The City of Richmond has had many elections before and will have many to come, and they will all matter in some way.

But we can't let the shared pastime of grumbling about the machinations of politics and the wearing complexity of government trick us into forgetting that, right now, for the future of our city, this is the election that matters.

Why?

As I campaigned during the primary season and met with concerned voters, business owners and community leaders, and as I've observed the economic, social and cultural forces at work in our area, I've come to see that the next four years are going to be a critical time in the history of Richmond, Indiana:

Continue reading Why THIS city election matters

How to decide whether to join a volunteer board

Dinner Party DessertIt's an honor and a privilege to have volunteer opportunities to use our time and talents for the betterment of our communities. One common opportunity is to serve as a board member at an organization you care about and whose mission you support.

I've written before about things you might consider when leaving a volunteer board of directors for a non-profit or other community organization. I've also had some good conversations recently about the process on the other side of that kind of community involvement, deciding whether or not to say "yes" to joining a board of directors or taking on some other leadership role. For your sake and for that of the organization, it's important to do some research and reflecting before accepting that invitation, to make sure your involvement is a good fit and that the experience will be rewarding for all involved.

From my experience, here's a list of steps to take and questions to ask when you're considering whether or not to join a board of directors:

Continue reading How to decide whether to join a volunteer board

Bike racks in downtown Richmond

Bike ParkingAs a employer of many high tech-workers who would prefer to ride their bikes to work instead of driving a car, my company Summersault has a real stake in having bike parking options near our downtown office.  We've even interviewed potential hires who cite the availability of bike parking and other types of alternative transportation support as an important factor in their decision to live and work in a city like Richmond, and with a limited pool of local technical talent to start with, it's in our interest to take that very seriously.

Most other communities have recognized the benefits of having bike parking in a central retail and business district like Richmond's.  They're good for business (when cyclists feel invited to shop downtown, they tend to spend even more money in a given area than car drivers do), they help prevent damage to benches, trees and lamp posts, they make for a more orderly-looking streetscape, they prevent theft, and they're relatively cheap to buy and install.

Unfortunately, in all of the time that I've worked in downtown Richmond, there hasn't been any convenient and consistently available bike parking available here.

If Richmond wants to be able to say that it's a city looking forward, a city that wants to attract and retain the modern worker, a city that cares about issues of sustainability and energy usage, it absolutely needs to have bike racks in its central business district.

Hopefully the current dearth of bike parking is about to change.

Continue reading Bike racks in downtown Richmond