Watching our national politics these days, I can’t help wishing that the rest of the country could run more like Mountain View. There is so much “us versus them” in national politics right now, that it sometimes feels like the country has gone mad. But Mountain View is a place where the local leaders have agreed to put down the “us” and the “them,” roll up their sleeves, and work together. They recognize each other as individuals doing their best, and they look for common ground.
It’s always been an ideal of mine to look for a community where there are differences. It’s a breath of fresh air to experience it in real life, and not just as an ideal.
Residents sometimes say our town feels like an “oasis.” I feel like the Town Council is another good example of that same characteristic of our town, playing out in Town Hall.
I am very proud of the council’s leadership. They are fiscally responsible, while still determined to solve problems and bring strategic, creative value to the lives of our residents. They are absolutely devoted to the concepts of community policing, without giving an inch when it comes to safety and addressing crime. They are friendly, good-natured individuals who take their leadership responsibilities seriously without taking themselves too seriously.
The most local level of governing is supposed to be nonpartisan but in my conversations with other mayors, I sometimes hear that it is a common difficulty to have divided, fighting councils.
And given the conversations we’re all exposed to in national politics, it would be very tempting for our council members to highlight their differences and double down on them. However, I am witnessing this council do the opposite.
They are having discussions about the issues and asking each other questions so they can understand unfamiliar perspectives. They are listening closely to find common ground. They are working hard to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
I would like to invite our community of residents to follow this same suit. Is it possible that the neighbor who you think is a bad person is just a different person? Is it possible that if we didn’t have the national media constantly harping on “red vs blue” we wouldn’t feel so attached to our own way of seeing things, and feel so critical of “the other?”
I’m not saying throw your values out the window. I’m saying make room for the idea that our national political conversation has taken it way too far, and we have lost perspective.
One of our council members, Events Committee Chair Brittany Loecher, put it this way the other day: “I might not agree with everything and everyone, but wouldn’t the world be a boring place if I did?”
I would like to thank the Mountain View Council for finding ways to meet in the middle, for working hard to learn new things and understand different perspectives. Thank you for letting go of the “right or left,” and “red or blue” and for building an oasis at the council table that reflects the full community you represent and sets an example for us all.
Emilie Mitcham is the mayor of Mountain View.