I will stand as a candidate for Rockland's Mayor for the upcoming year when the new councilors are sworn in November 21.
The position is somewhat ceremonial: The mayor chairs City Council meetings, and proposes appointments to committees, but otherwise holds generally the same power as the other Councilors. However, there is also a key role in being a face of the city, and setting the tone for open and positive interactions. I feel I can serve both facets in a way that the city can be proud of.
If selected by my fellow councilors, my aims are to:
- Conduct city meetings and business with professionalism and respect for citizens, staff, and councilors, and encouraging community engagement.
- Give any proposed ordinance, resolution, or order a place on the agenda for public discussion. Free and open debate should be part of our democratic process.
- Set up regular communication with our volunteer committees, commissions, and boards to ensure we use their valuable time and effort to best effect. Work with city staff to develop training and reference materials so new volunteers are confident in their roles.
- Establish a Housing Advisory Committee, as it is one of the most pressing issues in Rockland, and we currently lack dedicated staff or committee to marshal resources around this core issue. Expanding our capacity to explore ideas and opportunities around housing is urgent.
- Connect with other towns in Maine that face shared challenges. Use these coalitions to call attention to state policy in crucial areas such as the inequitable school funding formula that drives Rockland taxes up.
- Build on my positive relationships with our state legislators to keep Rockland's concerns at the front of their work.
- Revisit Council Goals quarterly to ensure important matters move forward. Maintain standing meeting agenda items for primary goals so progress can be frequently discussed.
- Encourage expanded community engagement in the city by hosting a volunteer fair for municipal and nonprofit groups. Helping residents, new and old, find ways to support local causes they are passionate about will strengthen our local relationships in a divisive era.
- Commit to holding monthly open "office hours" in convenient locations like the Rockland Library or Flanagan Center, and encourage other councilors to do the same.
I trust my fellow councilors will consider these goals alongside my efforts to vote fairly and rationally on council thus far, and consider me for the privilege of being Rockland's mayor in the next year.
Sarah Austin is a member of the Rockland City Council and lives in Rockland