Monday, December 1, 2008

About me

First, a little background about me.

I grew up in Great Scott Township on Highway 25, but I spent most of my time as a youth on the streets of Buhl. Many of you might remember my grandmother Madelene Molick and a few of you might have even had your hair done in her basement. Those who did surely remember that little guy running around upstairs, in her yard, or up and down Culver Avenue - sometimes in the middle of the night!

I graduated from MIB in 1990 and was around for all the controversy that surrounded the closing of the Martin Hughes School Building. My dad, Mike White, even had the misfortune of being on the school board during that time.

After high school I went to Hibbing Community College for two years and after that to the University of Minnesota-Duluth where I graduated with degrees - a BA in history and a BA in Political Science.

After graduation I got a job writing for the Daily Tribune in Hibbing and a year later started working at the Mesabi Daily News in Virginia, where I still am today.

A couple of years back when my wife Chandra and I had our son Vinny (one of five kids) and decided to buy a house in Buhl.

It was around this time that I started helping with a newly created Buhl summer baseball program, which ironically, was the same thing my dad did many years ago. And it was more or less the first time I ever got involved in any sort of community activity.

This past summer councilor Troy Martinson bought a new home in Mountain Iron but before he left he encouraged me to apply for his vacant seat. At first I was reluctant, having never wanted to be in city government. But after experiencing a few setbacks with the baseball program and meeting a lot of new families in town through that program, I realized I needed to get involved if for no other reason than to help plan for the future of the city.

I started in July and my experience so far has been eye opening but not overwhelming. As a reporter for the MDN I have covered city council meetings in every town on the Range for over 10 years. I've seen it all - from the pitfalls of micromanagement to the difficultly cities face when trying to improve infrastructure on a limited budget.

So that brings us to today and my philosophy as a councilor. These are a couple of things you need to know about me:

1. First, my opinions are my own and I usually don't hide them. I've never been a follower and I've always been an independent thinker. I don't like gangs, cliques, tag teams, secret meetings, under the table negotiations, backroom deals or "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." I'm me and what you see is what you get.

2. I also like to make informed decisions based on fact and I usually don't open my mouth and offer an opinion without doing my research. My goal is to look at all sides of an issue and after studying it and consulting with the experts around me (particularly the great staff at city hall) I will make a decision based on what I believe is the best course of action for the citizens of Buhl.

3. Personal issues are not important to me. Whether or not I like someone or something will never matter when it comes to my vote. That sort of attitude is dangerous and an abuse of power. Nothing constructive can come out of petty conflicts or ego trips.

4. I don't believe in pet projects when it comes to city government. Elected officials aren't elected to make sure their favorite services get preferential treatment - they are elected to serve the will of the people and do what's best for everyone to the best of their abilities.

5. I think communication with - and respect for - city staff, employees and the volunteers that make up the boards and commissions in town is very important. Volunteers are the lifeblood of a small town and deserve respect for giving up their time for the good of the community. And the employees are the experts the city council hires to manage the day-to-day operations of the city. I am not an expert and don't pretend to be one.

4. Finally, I believe Buhl needs to do a better job of long term planning. Up until this point the city has done a great job of expanding in the area of housing. Build it and they will come has worked out well.

Trust me, we are always among the first to be mentioned when the topic of new development is brought up in conversations across the Iron Range. However, looking at some things around town - from the dirt roads in front of some of the newer houses in town to the condition the baseball fields are in at this point - I sometimes wonder if enough thought was put into the whole process. Long range planning has to be about more than just selling empty lots and building homes and businesses.

It's great to expand and bring new families and businesses into town but we also have to take quality of life issues into consideration. We've got the population and now we need to give them a reason to stay. Some examples would be paved streets and/or sidewalks, expanded recreational opportunities, summer reading programs for kids, business recruitment (i.e. restaurants or other service industry), or city-wide events or celebrations like a true Fourth of July celebration. The new park equipment is a great example.

It's the extras that are going to keep all of these new families in town.

That's not to say we don't need things for the older generation as well. They are just as important and improving their lives will always be high on my list of priorities.

So there is my first blog. I've only touched on a few things for now but will expand my thoughts in the near future. I look forward to hearing from all of you about your concerns and I would encourage you to post here often.

No comments: