A Transition of Leadership: Mayor Cardona's Outgoing Message to Sunset Valley
Updated: Feb 12, 2021
Here's to the end of an era...a toast to being forever changed and grateful for the past eleven years of service.
Choosing to run for a final term was not an easy decision. I ran out of principal and desire to get the rock up the hill before handing unfinished work off. I wanted to hand it off in better shape than when I received it. Without a doubt, I did just that. I knew personnel changes were needed as early as 2014 and I ran on that agenda almost singularly in 2018. Those that voted for me and against me in 2018 knew that I wanted a new City Administrator and a more agile staff that had a lower cost to the City. The view from inside, as CEO, is quite different than that outside as a resident. There was extreme disfunction, mismanagement and incompetency that was not sustainable. It needed to be fixed and Council did that from 2016-2020 while also completing the largest capital project in the City's history. We started tightening the personnel changes around the time the buildings were finishing by hiring outside for a new Chief, then continued with a new City Administrator, new City Attorney, new City Engineers and now a new Public Works Director who starts on January 1, 2020.
We tightened the frequency and scrutiny that contracts receive ensuring that they go out for bid (City Attorney had not gone out to bid in over 15 years). The changes made last year from expanding the landscaping contract and reducing the retirement liability for the top level staff positions will save significant dollars, release work from existing full time staff, and improve the quality of services in our greenspaces. Our free solid waste program now includes weekly large-cart, single-stream recycle in addition to brush, compost and trash. These were not irrational or quick changes; it was slow and processed over the last many years. Our City has such a unique financial situation that is at a critical path. We can have it all: beautiful trails, shopping, no property taxes and residents who feel connected to City Hall. But to do so, we have to behave with an Owner Mentality. We all must be willing to do some work and make a few sacrifices.
Other, much needed, "growing up" occurred during my eleven years of service. Meetings became more sane, more controlled, and with less ego from the dais. Information became more available to the public and process at meetings became more consistent. We evolved into a more professional organization with increased transparency, less folklore ruling Council decisions, and more allowance of opinions from all streets and recognition that "time served in the city" is not a prerequisite to having a voice in the city.
Small, but meaningful changes such as meetings that start at 6pm and that are guaranteed by ordinance not to go past 10. Gone are the days when Council would meet and make important decisions late into the night with not a soul in the room to hold them accountable. Now ALL called meetings are recorded and available in live-stream or post-meeting archived format. I still find it shocking that past Mayors STILL push back on the recording of meetings. It amazes me what was allowed before the City hired its first City Administrator in 2008. We should not stop the improvements; there is so much more we can now do to improve communication, transparency and participation.
TO THE NEWLY ELECTED OFFICIALS
You have now been sworn into a two-year long job. It is hard work. My personal calculation of time is over 8,000 hours served and that does not include the headaches, stress and lost sleep. I missed two council meetings in 11 years. I have taken hits; been disrespected; and have shed many tears. Now you will too...and you will have my sincere support and empathy.
I want you all to succeed and improve the City. I expect change. Hit the gas and run with the wind. Government years feel like ten months or less, so don't waste time. Start requesting research for yourselves and the public to prepare us for the legislation and decisions you will put in place.
You have now accepted the most public of jobs--elected, unpaid, public servant. You are taking an oath to be fair, transparent, fiduciaries and to represent the entire City. Not just to those who voted for you and certainly not those who paid money to endorse you. The campaign period is always a flash in the pan every single year. Now begins the tedious part.
Do the work. Ask the questions. Question those who sing like sirens from the sea about how great you are to have shown up exactly when you did….I assure you...they will want the most unjust actions from you. I am no less here for you or the community than I was before. Please always reach out if I can do anything or if you simply want someone to chat with about Sunset Valley. I love my City.
Rose Cardona Hargrave
Your dedicated public officer from 2009-2020
Mayor from 2012-2020
Mayor Pro Tem from 2010-2012
Council Member from 2009-2012