New Councilors Learning To Juggle On The Job



Editor's note: This is the first of a regular column that will run on the third Friday of every month, written by a member of the Payson Town Council. It is their chance to discuss the issues and their role in those issues from a personal point of view.

by Su Connell, Payson Town Council

The Payson election is over and I am both glad and sad.

Sad because, after eight months of campaigning and putting up signs over and over again, they have all come down for good. Glad because, over those eight months I had the pleasure to meet, talk, debate and laugh with some of the finest people in the world: the citizens of Payson.

I felt those months were an investment, a demanding investment of time and energy, which has had the rich return of being elected your town councilor.

When I was sworn into office and really listened to the words in the oath, I got a knot in my stomach. I was solemnly swearing to support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, and that I would defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

What did I know about defending our town against evil forces? That's when it hit me and I began to wonder, "What have I done?"

I was really shaken, but I was not stirred away from my goal of being a Payson town councilor. (Shaken, not stirred -- ha!)

Town government is really the closest government to the people, and it is truly where the "rubber hits the road." It covers the most basic needs of our community, the morale of the community, the vision of the community, even the future of the community. It is a huge task.

Now, after almost four weeks as a councilor, I have to say I had no idea what it takes to serve on a town council. After trying to absorb information on everything from town policy and procedures, to budgets and strategic plans contained in six, three-inch binders, I am beginning to get the idea. Becoming a good town official is largely dependent on good eyesight, in addition to mastering the responsibilities and duties of the job.

Payson has many assets, and those assets will set the tone of my role in Payson's government. Payson is a friendly community with good air quality and climate, beautiful scenery and a huge heart. Payson values will direct how I operate; those values are the reasons we all live here. We care about each other; we want to preserve our area's heritage and identity as a small rural community; we want to ensure that our forest is preserved and we are protected from fires; we cherish our education, our safe community, and want to protect our superior quality of life.

Someone told me recently that to effectively perform as a member of the council I would have to become an accomplished juggler. Me -- who some people say I can't walk and chew gum? Well, I now have three roles and only so much time to perform them. I have my public position and work, my family and friends, and my avocations such as literacy and community service.

I am finding my schedule is full with council meetings and preparation, and public business and appearances. I am trying to learn to plan, organize, budget -- yes, juggle -- all these things. It is fun, fascinating and each day is truly a new challenge.

Being a town councilor and town leader is not a spectator sport. This role demands imagination, cooperation and commitment to make the best use of opportunities and challenges before our town and community.

I know that our diverse Payson town council will be able to build a strong and flexible community; it will attract, grow and retain businesses; it will create enticements for tourists to visit and spend money, and it will provide the best services, roads, housing and salaries for those who want to live and work here.

I am looking forward to being part of the Town Council of Payson, whose efforts will build the community. My role will enable me to build the community capacity of working together to develop the town financially, support the rural uniqueness, while utilizing the capability of others.

I still need your support, your feedback and your help. The real power is with you, some of the finest people on earth -- the citizens of Payson and the Rim Country area. When we all work together there is no limit to the greatness of our community.

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