“It’s not about us, but about our community,” Roeland Park Councilor Teresa Kelly said this morning as she, Mayor Joel Marquardt and Councilor Marek Gliniecki accepted the 2013 Consensus Civility Award on behalf of the entire city council.
The award specifically cited the efforts of the mayor and council to involve citizens in figuring out a budget for the coming year as the city faced significant loss of revenue. Kelly said the council is grateful to the residents of Roeland Park who participated because “they came together as neighbors.” She also introduced City Administrator Aaron Otto, who helped put together the involvement plan. Mayor Marquardt said Kelly and Gliniecki early on embraced the idea of a new approach to citizen engagement.
At the budget meetings this summer, residents were divided into small groups to work on the challenges. Kelly noted that a few people tried to take over at the second meeting and disrupt the plan, but at the end of the night, the participants applauded the new process. “It really made my heart swell to see the community come together,” Kelly said. “It was important for all of us to speak out, not just the governing body.”
The council and mayor were nominated by Roeland Park residents Ardie and Gretchen Davis. In their nomination, they described public meetings in the city that included “incidents of angry outbursts, ranting, raving and disrespectful name-calling from some residents.” The mayor and council have “set a new tone,” they said.
The Davises also talked about how people welcomed the opportunity to be heard in the small group discussions.
The Consensus awards were presented by KCPT’s Nick Haines during a breakfast at Rockhurst University. Other winners this year were Steve Roling, retired CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City; Airick Leonard West, president of the Kansas City School Board; Corinna West, founder of Wellness Wordworks; and Al Brooks, founder of Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. Brooks was give a Lifetime Achievement Award.