In each of my articles, I sign off by saying that having open communications is important to me and that my door is always open. These are not just empty words used to close my weekly column. These words are very important to me and part of the way I conduct myself and how I do business.
Before I retired, I would visit all of the U.S.-based facilities operated by my employer, quarterly. While visiting, I would always make myself available to anyone who wanted to talk with me. I would hold small meetings with employees at all levels to answer any questions and to get feedback on how the company was doing and how we could improve our product, our costs, our production, and more.
As an alderman, I walked to more than 1,200 homes in my ward — every year — to gather input from those I represented. When elected mayor, I promised to improve communications, and I continue to be available to meet with our residents.
So, since I was elected mayor, what have we done to improve communications? The following is a list of things we have implemented to encourage greater communication, foster discussion, disseminate information, and gather input:
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▪ I have met with all the city of O’Fallon’s employees.
▪ I am in the office the same hours as our City Hall employees, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if someone wants to meet, I come in on the weekends.
▪ I hold evening and weekend hours at least once per month.
▪ I make it a priority to respond to phone calls and emails within 24 hours, or less.
▪ We now hold quarterly Town Hall meetings. The next one will be on April 18 at the O’Fallon Public Library.
▪ I meet with O’Fallon’s school superintendents and St. Clair County Board members, quarterly.
▪ Local mayors and I meet at least once per month.
▪ We now publish meeting agendas for our City Council and committee meetings on Thursday, instead of Friday. This gives our elected officials more time to review the information and make an informed decision.
▪ We now have two opportunities for public comment at our City Council meetings. In the past, there was only one.
▪ When there is a fifth Monday in a month, we now hold a “committee of the whole” meeting. This meeting format allows the City Council to discuss broad policy issues and establish priorities for improving the community. The next committee of the whole meeting will be on April 30 at the O’Fallon Public Safety Facility.
Before the election, I walked through O’Fallon and met with our residents. I took a break from this once I was elected in order to properly acclimate to my new role as mayor. But, I am glad to say that I will soon start walking door-to-door again to meet with our residents and gather their feedback. You may soon see me walking in your neighborhood.
We are always looking for ways to continue to improve communications, if you have any ideas, please let us know.
Of course, there are times when we deal with a circumstance that requires us to maintain confidentiality. Some negotiations or legal matters require us to not disclose certain information. One example of this is the negotiations over Southview Plaza, which had been going on for several months. But, as soon as we know information can be shared with the community, we make every effort to update everyone.
If anyone has a question, concern, or compliment (it happens every once in a while), or just wants to chat, please stop in or call City Hall, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.