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September 28, 2022

Letter to the editor: Bringing unity to City Hall

Being an effective leader requires someone willing to set their ego aside and work together with other members. Listening to each member and treating them equally and with respect is crucial to creating a strong and cohesive team. A true leader does not attempt to control the discussion; he or she allows for differing viewpoints without becoming accusatory, dismissive or defensive. In fact, well-rounded discussions that embrace and consider differing views frequently bring about the best decisions.

Successful leaders will inspire the team, and empower them—they recognize an individual member’s talents, and encourage that member to take on tasks that suit them and which they can really excel at. Valuing each member’s individual contributions helps build a solid, unified team.

Good leadership is so important to our City Council. Councilmembers are all leaders, and as such should be welcoming and encourage participation from the public. Whether it is listening to a speaker at a meeting, engaging with them outside the chambers, or out on social media, it is important for a leader to model respectful behaviors.

Hollister has witnessed a divided city council for many years. This has frequently created gridlock at City Hall, making it difficult to get things done. Behaviors have ranged from mild disagreements to full on name-calling, threats and other displays of disrespect toward each other, and toward members of the public. Councilmembers have come and gone, but this problem has persisted. 

The mayor presides over the meetings, and in this leadership role, sets the tone for the council. The culture, environment and behaviors—both good and bad— are shaped by his leadership.

Councilmembers may not care for a particular speaker’s point of view, or who they are or what they represent—but in the eyes of the law, it does not matter. 

It is important for the city council to follow the rules set out in the Brown Act, and allow all members of the public to speak on any item of community interest at public comment. The council may choose not to act further on a speaker’s concerns, but the questioning of the speaker’s motives, name-calling or making accusations during a council meeting should never occur, and creates an atmosphere of distrust in the community. The mayor as chair of a city council meeting should not only refrain from engaging in this kind of behavior, but also has a duty to prevent other councilmembers from crossing this line as well.

As mayor, I would support the city council team, and bring needed unity and leadership to City Hall. Imagine how much more could be accomplished with a cohesive team focused on the work of the city. 

During my career, I was known as someone who could build unity and consensus among diverse groups. I respect other’s viewpoints and actually enjoy and continually learn from differing perspectives. I want all council members and the public to feel they are heard and valued. 

I know I can work collaboratively with our city council and rebuild the public’s trust, and I would be honored to be given the opportunity to put my leadership skills to work for the City of Hollister.

Mia Casey

Hollister

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