Before I was elected mayor of Lebanon, I made a promise to keep you all updated as to my progress. This is my first attempt to do so outside the usual social media route. It has been two months since the people of our town elected me mayor. I continue endeavoring to be worthy of that vote. Let me explain to you how.
Much of the past two months has been spent establishing my roles and responsibilities here at city hall. Knowing that our town had some real political battles over the past decade, I made it a point to not come in swinging elbows and barking orders. One of my goals was to bring competent and thorough decision making to the mayor’s office. I feel I’ve done that by simply finding my footing as mayor and building relationships.
That’s not to say that these two months have been spent sitting on my butt. I had three city council resignations to deal with while poring over the city budget. As I type, I believe we are close to finalizing and approving Lebanon’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, and I’ve managed to have all three vacated councilmember positions filled in time to have the replacements attend budget talks. It was important to me that all members of city council have equal time to ask questions, voice concerns, and study the budget. Mission accomplished!
During the campaign, I said, “I am a team builder.” There is still a long way to go, but I feel we are off to a fantastic start to building the team that our town deserves.
It is important to involve the entire city in our municipal government. I believe we are headed in the right direction there. Since April, I’ve appointed three people around my age or younger to get involved in city boards. Purple Heart recipient Stephen Marcum took my place on the Planning & Zoning Board. Randy Randolph is on the Board of Adjustments. Robert Slaughter is now a member the Library Board.
Going forward, I have two Park Board appointees at the end of the month who will be new to city committees. I, for one, am excited to hear more about what these new civic participants will accomplish in the years to come.
Our town has a great city staff. Every department has been extremely responsive to my questions, concerns, or directions. I still have many more city staff members to visit with, but I think the word is out that I’m not like any previous mayor. I hope that means I’m a breath of fresh air to our community.
Speaking of city staff, I wanted to take time to highlight my working relationship with the city administrator. During the campaign, I met with Chris Heard a few times at City Hall to ask questions. The next thing I knew, people were claiming that I play golf with him weekly. If you’ve heard that from someone, you should probably find a better source of information. I’ve been to a golf course once in my life, in high school. I wasn’t any good. I’m more of a professional wrestling enthusiast.
Since my election, Chris and I have had a fantastic working relationship. We see the same issues from different angles. We communicate respectfully with each other. The budget process should be a perfect litmus test to see how our working relationship and my relationship with city council is operating. If the budget is approved, it means that the city administrator incorporated the changes city council gave him. That is how our city government is supposed to work.
I am hard at work for our town. I do not know how I’ve managed my time between my family, my business, and my mayoral duties, but I think I’m getting better at it. In a few short days, I will be attending an elected official conference in Columbia, MO to be better educated and network with other municipal leaders!
For more updates, check out “Mayor Josh Ray” on Facebook.
Mayor of Lebanon, Missouri