The Ames City Council discussed methods to increase community engagement during the first goal setting meeting.
Members of the Ames City Council, with the exception of Ward 3 Rep. David Martin, met for a special meeting Saturday morning to develop the new goals of the Council. The goal setting meeting is the first of two, and no decisions were made during the first meeting.
During the meeting, the Council members reflected on the accomplishments and challenges in the past couple of years. Mayor John Haila said he is proud to serve with the Council.
“I have trust in every individual in this Council that they have good intentions and they have the best interest of this community in mind, and I’ve never doubted that,” Haila said. “To me, [if] we lose trust, we’re in serious trouble.”
The Council goals can be found on the city of Ames website, and they are re-evaluated every two years. During the meeting, the Council said they wanted to increase communication between the Council and the community.
At-large Rep. Amber Corrieri said another challenge is accepting the lack of engagement.
"Another challenge is all of us accepting the fact that as engaged as we say the community is, we do not have an engaged community at all," Corrieri said. "I think sometimes we need to accept the fact we don't have an engaged community, and we may never have a fully engaged community; and the engagement we do get is often not representative of the entire community."
In addition to the engagement, the Council also discussed methods to increase the quality of communication during public input sessions.
"I'm talking with residents from South Dale of their drainage issues; I had people in that neighborhood meeting say, 'we brought things to Council 10 years ago, and Council didn't care,'" said Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher. "So they aren't recognizing this is not the same council that said 'no' 10 years ago, but they’ve beaten down and decided it’s not worth it to re-engage."
Betcher said she wants the Council to make an effort of reaching out to the community rather than the community reaching out to them.
"But we don't really make a concerted effort to continue to go out, you know, show up to other places, we want people to come to us," Betcher said. "Or we have the one big meeting at the library or the one big meeting on campus, and it's not a regular thing. So if you don't feel like this is something we care enough about to keep coming out, why should you keep coming out to us?"
In addition to connecting to the community, Ex-officio Devyn Leeson said from speaking with the Iowa State community, his goal is to have new city developments carbon neutral, while Ward 4 Rep. Rachel Junck said she wanted to adopt a goal to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and set aside funds for a climate action plan in the 2020 budget.
The goals will not be official until the next goal setting meeting, which will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the activity room of the Parks and Recreation center.