A July 18 workshop, "Defining Payson's Future: Citizens' Input Session," takes steps toward fulfilling the Mayor Bob Edwards' campaign slogan, "We the People" by providing an opportunity for community members to present their ideas, opinions and constructive criticism to the heads of more than a dozen mayor's task forces.
"This meeting is just a kickoff," said Lew Levenson, chairman of the Citizens Generated Goal Plan Task Force. "It's set up that people from any persuasion will be able to express their opinions. They will have a chance to have their ideas on the table. My sense is there is a real undercurrent of citizens who aren't going to crawl back in the hole and wait for the next election to roll along."
Each task force will compile feedback in the weeks following the workshop. Levenson said the information will filter through another group, comprised of voters selected by the council, called the Citizens' Advisory Panel. From there the panel will distill the results and present its findings to the council.
"It'll just be work study at first," Levenson said. "(The council) can take from that and go to different departments and say, ‘OK here are the results.'"
The preliminary data will serve as the backbone of the town's annual Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP), adopted in February.
Mayor Bob Edwards said he's taking a different approach to the CSP during his tenure. In past years, staff has determined the town's yearly objectives, including capital improvements, business decisions and the expansion of municipal services.
But Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the citizen's input workshop will alleviate the staff's burden to determine the town's goals.
"Doing these public sessions is a fabulous idea," Carpenter said. "This is purely an information-gathering thing. I'm glad somebody's doing it. It's high time."
The forum combines discussion groups, breakout sessions and brainstorming confabs, covering at least 11 issues -- everything from the airport to economic development.
"This is kind of an adjunct to what the task forces are doing," Mayor Bob Edward said. "If you want to participate, come forward. There's nothing held against you if you didn't support us. We may disagree on some things, but the passion is what I'm looking for."
Representatives from the various task forces will man separate classrooms at Frontier Elementary School where attendees are invited to record their ideas and suggestions on sheets of paper posted on the wall.
"We are offering people a chance to get involved," Edwards said. "If you want to sit back, don't complaint when it doesn't turn out the way you wanted."
Workshop coordinator Gene Sampson said Tuesday's workshop reaches beyond the political rhetoric by providing an objective, accurate environment to share ideas.
"The task is to be impartial because they don't have any decision-making power," Sampson said.
Carpenter and Community Development Director Jerry Owen will be on hand to provide guidance and to answer questions.
The workshop takes place during two sessions -- 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. -- Tuesday, July 18, at Frontier Elementary School, 1000 E. Frontier St. For more information contact Sampson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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See Related Editorial: Keep task force activities transparent