When I first moved to Mountain View, I found it difficult to stay informed about town plans. I attended a council meeting, but the language and process was intimidating and unfamiliar. I didn’t feel welcomed. I know now that this was simply my own inexperience, and not by design. But the traditional ways Town Hall reaches out to residents is not always very successful.
When I joined the council in 2017, increasing positive interactions between residents and Town Hall was a big priority for me. I worked with Council Member Kathleen Bailey to create a committee devoted to community outreach.
Several years later, I am still working (now as your mayor) to make it easier for residents to participate.
Recently, we appointed four community members to the Board of Adjustment and Appeals (BOAA). This board will hear requests for variances from the Building Code and plays an important role in running the town fairly. I am personally thankful to four new volunteers: prior mayor Jeff Kiddie, Elizabeth Robinson, Cherie Warner and Christopher Swindell. We are still seeking a fifth member. Interested residents should reach out to Town Clerk Margy Greer.
Mountain View United (MVU), the resident group currently led with enthusiasm and dedication by volunteer Leal Algiene, is another option for getting involved. The group was formed to facilitate resident involvement outside of the more formal legislative process. Leal has stated that she is focused on “beautification, community events, a helper’s guild, sustainability, and communication with council.” I am excited to see Council and MVU work together. Residents who would like to join MVU should send an email to Leal at Leality@gmail.com.
Mountain View United communication is mainly via email to make it as easy as possible. In addition, Leal holds occasional small gatherings to get input and feedback on things council is considering. My job at these meetings is to listen and to help carry the input back to the council table. Members meet in a resident’s backyard or on the porch, share a refreshment, and get to know each other while discussing issues or making plans for an event.
At the recent Spring Fling thrown by the town, MVU hosted a Seed Give Away table for residents to share garden seeds. The Memorial Day event had an MVU-sponsored Plant Exchange. And the group is planning a July block party for residents, which will include live music, food and drinks.
Smaller subgroups of the membership are always welcome to tackle particular issues they’re interested in. Currently, three members of the group are researching composting options for the town in order to make recommendations to council. This is a creative and efficient way to participate in local government.
Residents have a big role to play in helping council make decisions. Many residents have good ideas and would like to have their voices taken into consideration. It’s my hope that everyone who wants to participate will find a welcoming seat at the table, whether it’s in person at a Town Hall table, via email at your own kitchen table, or over a coffee at a neighbor’s backyard table. I want all of these voices included.
Mountain View is a vibrant and fun place these days specifically because of the residents who are willing to step up – as Council members, Board of Adjustment and Appeals members, or Mountain View United members. Thank you to each of you!
Contact Town of Mountain View mayor Emilie Mitcham at EMitcham@tomv.org.