Mayor JW Foster
Photo credit: City of Yelm
Mayor Foster has not been leading public discourse this year.
The Mayor was conspicuously absent all last month in soliciting, educating, or engaging in any discourse about the publicly controversial Fairpoint properties purchase, except in his usual role conducting 2 city council agendas. While Councilors Carmody and DePinto presented information about this and various city issues and responding to constituents on their councilor Facebook pages, the only vehicle for the public to engage city officials outside of council sessions was on the Yelm Government Facebook page, where there was little official response.
* Facebook should not be solely used to engage Yelm citizens outside of city hall.
* A $1 million acquisition deserved a Town Hall by the mayor, city administrator, and finance director.
* Mayor Foster was absent as the best person to foster public participation on this issue!
When Mayor Foster was appointed to his post in August 2016, he committed to transparency and open communication. Foster held the first city-sponsored Town Hall in 12 years here in Nov. 2016, followed by a second one in March 2017. So engaging and informative were these 2 sessions that Mayor Foster committed to conduct them regularly, though Yelm has not seen another since 15 months ago.
One of the key 2017 campaign issues was transparency:
“The Nisqually Valley News (NVN) sent questions to candidates for Yelm mayor — Mayor JW Foster”
Published Oct. 19, 2017
NVN: “Do you consider Yelm government to be transparent? How will you improve transparency?”
Mayor Foster: “Since taking office in August 2016, I have taken steps to make Yelm’s government much more transparent and open to communication. Starting with a more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at city council meetings and study sessions, to establishing social media sites and reaching out to residents through our website and a strong working relationship with the local media, we have glass walls on city hall and welcome public participation and comment.”
– Bottom Line:
While Foster did enact the aforementioned steps as interim mayor, something demonstrably changed after the Nov. 2017 election, and in particular in 2018. There was a noticeable lack in his soliciting public discourse. His “send the mayor a comment” link on the city’s homepage was removed and his regular public chats were discontinued. The Mayor’s Facebook page recently carried mostly photo ops, almost as if he were already positioning to run for higher public office outside of Yelm. While I appreciate Foster’s service to our country and in the community, engaging in public discourse seems to have been left to others.
However, Mayor Foster is the best person to foster public participation on city issues.
The citizens of Yelm and vicinity need/deserve his mindful presence, engagement, and leadership!