By AARON WALKER
County Council Candidate
Even before I made my decision to run for county councilor, I have been vocal about the need for the county to improve their communication.
The LEDA grant for the Marriot hotel was the prime example of the county not disseminating enough information to the people with enough notice. What was the result of that? 20+ people showed up to a county council meeting to oppose the proposed grant. The council even admitted that they probably hadn’t gotten enough information to the public in advance.
Now comes the announcement that the county is pursuing land transfers of three technical areas in White Rock from the Department of Energy. Has the county and the council not learned anything from the past? There have been rumblings and mentions of this in the past at various county council meetings, but nothing concrete with a definitive point for public input. No major information releases from the county until now, after action is being taken to pursue the land. Why is this? Why can’t the county seem to figure out the idea that people want to know what is going on? It is surprises like this that breed distrust and discontentment with our county government. It’s not always about what the information is, but how and when it reaches the people.
The details of this proposal also don’t paint a pretty picture for the idea of transparency and communication. The proposal has specifics for the types of housing, how much housing, retail, lab and open spaces. I DO realize that this is just the proposal for the land transfer, and not the final word on what will happen with the land. What I am disappointed with is the fact that the county continues to take the same path of not properly informing the people. There is no communication.
This complete lack of communication must be fixed. The only way this seems like it is going to be fixed is with a culture change. We must change the way the county and the council disseminates information. The trust and faith of the public is very important for the county government. Many people have raised incredible questions on this already, and I hope the council is ready to answer them. I also hope they reach out and actually begin answering the questions that citizens have.
I’m not entirely against this proposal, YET. I want more information, and more involvement in the process. More housing is important, and the way this area is potentially going to be developed is important as well. Great care and a lot of factors must be considered beforehand. This would result in the loss of a significant amount of open space in the White Rock area, and is of great concern to a lot of people within the community. I’m against the “surprise” methodology the county seems to operate under, and I’m against the business practice of giving away tracts of land for private developers. The only way we can hold our government accountable is if we are informed. If the county isn’t willing to inform the citizens, that ability is greatly diminished.
If you would like to help me get on the ballot for county councilor, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am running as an Independent, and must gather signatures on a petition to qualify for the ballot in November. I strive to bring an open level of communication and honest business practices to the county. I want to restore faith and confidence in the county government.