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I Love Democracy!



As part of the government relations work we’re doing for a client, I got to spend the entire evening earlier this week at a City Council meeting. It was a single-item agenda with 20-plus speakers, split about 50/50 between supporters and detractors.

It was heartening to watch small-town government at work. All of the speakers were respectful, though some seemed to truly not understand the issue, or the laws surrounding it. What was enjoyable was seeing concerned citizens take a few hours out of their day-to-day lives and their normal evening schedules to share their support, their ideas, their solutions, their disappointments and their concerns — but most importantly their passion — with the council, the others who attended and those who watched from home on TV.

The council paid full attention, and when the speakers were done, each using their allotted three minutes (and sometimes a little bit more), the council did their best, in conjunction with the city attorney and city manager, to address each of the questions and concerns.

The council then took some moderate and reasoned actions, factoring in some of what they heard from their constituency, and we wrapped up for the night. No final decisions were made and no conclusions were drawn, but the steps were thoughtful, transparent and productive. Realistically, this was one step in what will be a long and drawn-out process, inevitably leading, in large part, to a conclusion that most can already predict.

But the highlight of the evening was the process. A large part of the work we do at Mustang is community and government relations. It’s important work, sometimes acrimonious, usually challenging, but always important. As individuals, as small business owners, as employees, we all have an opportunity to have an impact on the community we live and work in — and almost always a larger impact than most people realize.

Last night, the people spoke — and were listened to — the city staff did their job and our elected officials, all five, did a terrific job. In short, the democratic process worked as it was supposed to, as it should, and all of us, regardless of where we stand on the issue, should be comforted and encouraged by that.