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The difference between listening and agreeing

As city councilors it is our job to represent the residents and businesses of West Linn. It is a role that comes with great responsibility, and we take it seriously. During our terms, we must learn about a wide range of issues, whether it is code amendments, street projects, development or redevelopment. To do so, we spend hundreds of hours reading and learning about complex issues, such as the regulatory streamlining code amendments we’ve been working on.

Jones

We also need to hear from the community. We need to hear your support, your concerns, your questions, your suggestions, your opinions and especially your discontent. We hear from residents in many formats — phone calls, social media, emails, letters and verbal testimony at meetings. They are all important and each voice — and opinion - is equal and deserves to be heard. When we hear from the community, we must deal with a diverse range of opinions.

We need to digest all that information and then consider the impacts of our decisions and determine what is best for the whole of the community, not just the noisiest or the most outspoken. Though some may believe otherwise, we really do read everything that is written and we do listen to all points of view. Just because we may not vote in your favor on an issue, that doesn’t mean you have been ignored or we didn’t listen to you. And please remember, oftentimes, public input helps us refine items or change items.

For instance, in the regulatory streamlining discussion, we shelved removing the free appeals for neighborhood associations. We heard you, we listened and we acted.

There is a difference between listening and agreeing. I, quite frankly, am upset when individuals who did submit testimony say, “I wasn’t heard.” In my mind, it often means: “You didn’t agree with me.”

Part of our job as councilors is to balance all of the testimony we receive and create policy that, in our opinion, is in the best interest of West Linn. This, by necessity, almost always means that we will disagree with an individual or even a group of individuals. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have respect for the testimony or that we didn’t listen to and study that testimony.

We are constantly coming up with more and more ways to engage with the public and get you involved and informed. Your opinion matters. To help increase communications, the city recently added the citizen engagement coordinator position, have reinstituted the weekly email updates, are working on a computer and smartphone app for submitting requests (to be launched this fall) and starting to send advanced notices of public works projects to affected addresses.

Mike Jones is a West Linn resident and city councilor. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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