© 2017 by Matt Benjamin - Paid for by the Committee To Nominate Matt Benjamin for Council

Effective Governance

Effective governance is the core of my approach to leading Boulder through these times of change. We walked on the Moon, we drove rovers on Mars and we observed the humble beginnings of our Universe. These profound achievements were made possible by setting clear goals and priorities followed by a commitment to a process that is based on solid evidence and information. I will bring this scientific approach for success to our local government. In a town of profound intellectualism, we owe it to the people of Boulder to have our city government mirror the characteristics of the people we serve and protect. My approach begins with listening to the people, and laying concrete and well defined goals to achieve our needs. It is through these goals and a clear process that we can apply the self-correcting nature of science to our local policies. My approach and decisions will be based on clear evidence and information, not a feeling or belief.

 

A reactive government is not an effective government. The issues City Council has been tackling the past few years have not suddenly popped up. They have been looming and stewing until they became so demanding Council was forced to address them. This reactive nature has become a symptom of City Council trying to do too much and having an aggressive agenda. When you’re looking at your feet how can you see the trail in front of you, much less the rock you’re about to trip over? We must move to govern proactively and not reactively. My experience working for CU Boulder and with NASA and NOAA taught me that “Less is More” leads to success. Many of the missions CU has successfully led or had instruments on, they chose to study a few specific things without trying to answer every question. We should apply this to local government, focusing on fewer individual items so we can achieve “Quality over Quantity” in the policies we enact. If we formulate clear defined goals and priorities with a process based on the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, we will set ourselves up for the greatest chances for success.

 

First and foremost, there is just simply too much on the yearly agendas for the City Council. The result of not clearly defining priorities is a breeding ground for inefficiency. Our dynamic government is becoming less so, more mired in the grind than in a dynamic position to set goals for our future. I know that we can apply the “Quality over Quantity” approach to City Council, whereby focusing on the highest priorities will maximize the impact and output of those select items and projects.  I am well aware that this means there will be certain agenda items that the City Council will have to defer and/or ignore, thereby upsetting some of our passionate residents. Looking back at the agenda items from this past year’s meetings there were several line items that, while they were important national issues, they did not have a direct impact on our city. These should not be taking up the time of City Council when there are more pressing issues our city is facing.

The other main roadblock preventing the council’s efficiency is the quantity of each meeting’s agenda. Some meetings are packed with two, three or even four important issues. Each of these gets marginalized for the sake of trying to squeeze them all into one meeting. Again, quantity over quality inherently fails the system. I fully support the council’s commitment to maintain the public discourse with public hearings to allow for lots of input. To do so, we must trim back the volume of items on the council’s docket in each individual meeting so the public comment and council discussion are not restricted. Maintaining the public open forum is directly impacting the quality of their governance; while at the same time overloaded agendas are directly minimizing the quality of public discourse. By addressing the reactiveness, quality and quantity of the agendas of council starting on day one, I will drastically improve the effectiveness of our city council.

 

Further into my term, there is a larger issue I see as a systemic obstacle to our effective governance that I plan to tackle. Looking back at council meetings over the past few years there is clearly a lack of efficiency that carries over from year to year when the council members change. Every election cycle the city council candidates campaign on wanting to change Boulder’s inefficient governance. Yet every two years people on the council change and still the problem persists. This is clearly a critically important institutional issue that must be solved if any long-term success is expected. I think one of the biggest factors in this situation is a lack of accountability on Council. Boulder does not have districts. If we had districting, we would have a much clearer line of accountability to our constituents. Fewer groups and neighborhoods in this town would feel marginalized and disenfranchised by our local government. Boulder is continuing to grow, not just in population but in physical size. Just last year Boulder moved it’s city limits out to 55th Street on the eastern edge. This area is full of homes, businesses and potential areas of growth that should have a passionate representative on council. As a resident of South Boulder, it has become clear that many issues facing our neighborhoods are not garnering equal and fair attention as other parts of Boulder. Looking forward, no issue will impact South Boulder more than the CU South property proposals. As your candidate, I vow to look for creative solutions that minimize the impact of any development of this area. I view the challenges Boulder faces as opportunities to make Boulder better than we found it for the future generations.