Sticking with the basics

Sticking with the basics

The amount and pace of economic change affecting our national, state and local governments has caused me to think once again about the notion of community stewardship: the idea of choosing ‘service over self-interest.’

Our community has been fortunate because this concept of stewardship is personified in Clovis’ rich tradition of community-focused families like Sassano, Smittcamp, Rogers, Cook, Harlan, Ikeda, MacFarlane, Sandoval, Takahashi and many more. Through nearly a century of our existence, these and many other individuals and families have provided the civic foundation that has guided our community.

Maybe it is because of this strong, consistent civic stewardship that we have also had the good fortune that the majority of our elected officials throughout history not only embraced those same community values and civic commitments, but reflected them in their visionary decision-making, as well.

Today we are all enjoying community benefits that are the legacy of choices made long ago by Clovis’ previous generations of elected officials. We owe today’s community to former council members and mayors like Prindiville, King, Bos, Wynne, Hamlin and Waterston. When asked about their most important decisions and the lessons they learned from them, their answers were consistently similar:

  • Make decisions that will stand up 30, 40, 50 years from now.
  • Work hard, focus, and don’t spend money you don’t have.
  • Preserve the core of our city and our individuality as a significant city in our own right.
  • Honoring our traditions always informs good choices.
  • Set high expectations and accept nothing less from yourself, the Council, the staff and the community.
  • Resisting influence or pressure is always a wise choice and making decisions based on individual political ambition rarely is.
  • Keep talking about differences.

What I hear from Clovis residents and business owners are that they expect three simple things from local government:

Competence. Results. Humanity.

And while the confidence in State and federal government to deliver these is quite low, residents still have very high expectations for Clovis.

“I like that Clovis is safe.” “I like that Clovis is clean.” “I like that Clovis works.” “Just do the basics well.” These are the sentiments I hear from citizens every day. With the growth and rapid pace of change that we are facing in Clovis, there is plenty to keep us busy on the City Council without spending time, energy or other resources on issues for which we are not accountable and that we cannot resolve for the benefit of all local residents.

Now more than ever, our community and its elected officials need to work together to maintain our focus on Clovis issues within our power to manage – the very thing that has brought us the success we have experienced to date.

Clovis: Distinctions that define our community

Clovis: Distinctions that define our community

There is something unique about our community. Clovis local government is viewed as an accessible, “local” resource, not some gigantic bureaucracy where there is little response and less action. When I speak with Clovis residents individually at the grocery store or at a school activity, they always end up saying something like “Clovis feels manageable” or “I called City Hall and they talked to me about it” or “I emailed so and so about it and they connected me with the right person.”
So what are the community distinctions about Clovis that make a difference? With the rise of chain stores, “big box” retail centers, and global branding, it is becoming harder and harder for communities to distinguish themselves.

But, fundamentally, Clovis residents do NOT believe their community is the same as other places in our Valley.

Our population is approaching 100,000. We are maintaining our Old Town, reinvesting in our older neighborhoods like the Historic Helm Ranch area in Southwest Clovis, creating new neighborhoods with distinct identities through our “urban villages” strategy, and adding new living wage jobs each year.

The Shaw Avenue Committee is a model collaborative for productive work between government and the private sector. It informally operates as a business improvement district, adding marketing signage, improving landscaping, and renewing private sector commitment in the corridor.

When you ask folks why they moved to Clovis, they will always tell you one of two things, each of which speaks to the power of fundamental competency as a core value: schools and public safety.

Clovis residents also demand that the people who make decisions for them be good stewards of water and land – today and for the next generation.

To keep our community involved, we have worked aggressively and have learned a lot about citizen engagement and communication. In Clovis, small groups of citizens can still make a significant difference.

As Clovis has been dealing with change over the last few decades, our residents have been saying clearly and loudly that they want the values reflected in our Clovis community identity and our shared way of life to remain at the core of our decision making.

These are uncertain times in our world, difficult times for our country, and almost unmanageable financial times for California and its cities. Yet, even as we begin dealing with the changes and new constraints of the next few years, our residents are still telling me they want to avoid the degradation other cities has quietly allowed over the years – they want Clovis to maintain our distinct community identity, our standards of personal service , and our shared way of life.

Those important community distinctions remain at the core of my decision making.

Core Community Values

Core Community Values

As we look forward, Clovis residents are saying they want us to continue operating with the core values that define our uniqueness and that have preserved our history.

  1. Clovis must continue to have a vision for itself.
  2. Local Clovis government must continue being transparent and remain accessible for resident engagement.
  3. High standards of competence must remain the entry level standard for staff and elected officials
  4. Clovis must remain the safest city in the Valley.
  5. Solid planning, innovative design, creative solutions, solvency, and strong financial management must continue as the minimum operational standard for our city’s departments and public institutions because that is the path to stability and self-sufficiency.
  6. Because rising tides lift all boats, Clovis must continue pursuing collaborative solutions to regional issues, knowing that our self interest is best served by progress on our shared interests.

Institutional competency becomes a growing challenge as cities and their processes grow more complex. Most of us experience large institutions as more complex, less flexible, less personal, more focused on managing a transaction on the system’s terms, and less capable of being accountable for providing real solutions to real people – that the system works more for those in it than for those its suppose to be serving. As our community grows, our local government must remain focused on accessibility, personal service, and results.

As we grow, so, too, do the number of folks in our midst who cannot afford a home or food or clothing. Clovis residents want their city to be prepared to help those folks in an organized, thoughtful way that respects their humanity and ours.

So, Clovis is more than houses, schools, and shopping centers. We are a community of distinctions based on core values and refined over a century. With care on all of our parts and a desire to live them daily, our shared values in Clovis and this Valley will serve us well for the next 100 years.

Lynne’s Principles of Civic Leadership

Lynne’s Principles of Civic Leadership

  1. Civic leadership starts with civic engagement. Vote. Pay attention. Know who is in office. Know how that vacant parcel of land in your neighborhood is slated to develop. Attend a City Council meeting now and then. Model civic engagement for your children. Participate in ways large and small.
  2. Learn more about our community…how it started…where Clovis Cole’s first ranch was located…and make sure your neighbors know, as well. Preserving our traditions is an important part of civic leadership today. In your community, just like in your family, past is prologue – history and traditions help us forge a more successful future.
  3. To whom much is given, much is expected. Choose one thing to do…one way to make a difference in your neighborhood, at your children’s school, in our city. There is much to be done…if everyone who was able just did ONE thing, think of all that might be possible! If not you…who?There is a distinct difference between public opinion, political will and “civic will.” Elected officials come and go…but civic leaders are a constant. Deciding to ACT as a “citizen” means we are the cause of our environment…not the effect of it. Civic engagement is not a spectator sport.
  4. Act on what matters to you…not just what sustains the status quo.
  5. There is a fundamental difference between service and self-interest.Choose to be a steward of our community. Be present where you are today. Be aware of the distinction between ambition and civic leadership …and wary of those seeking office as a “stepping stone” who do not know or respect the difference. The decisions you get are vastly different.
  6. Ships in harbors are safe…but that is not what ships were made for.Leadership would be safe if our community only faced problems for which we knew the solutions.
  7. Consider the whole. Single-issue or partisan advocacy often oversimplifies complex public policy problems…and community issues are rarely simple and are always linked to something else. Focus on solving problems rather than blocking others from implementing their solutions.
  8. A rising tide lifts all boats. Clovis is not an island or “walled city” immune from the issues of surrounding communities. Stand for efforts that help our region succeed.