Opinion

Mayor reflects on first 100 days

Today marks the 100th day since I took on the role as mayor of Langley.

Bringing in a new administration has meant changes and a new spirit at city hall. The enormity of the task has been a bit surprising, yet my enthusiasm for assuming this role, at what feels is the right place at the right time, continues to grow.

These past three months have been marked by several areas of focus, restructuring the city administration, encouraging citizen involvement, outreach beyond Langley and actively planning for Langley’s future.

Internally, we have created a team environment that encourages cross-department communication and city staff partnership with the council. We have been clarifying and strengthening the council’s legislative role and the city staff’s administrative role.

The city council has made a bigger commitment by meeting weekly in informal workshop sessions. We have redesigned the council agenda so that once a month there is a study session where the council focuses on larger issues and engages citizens in deeper discussions.

On the planning front, we have set several priorities; implementing the Langley Comprehensive Plan, addressing the planning issues for Langley’s waterfront and supporting the revitalization of the Langley Marina in collaboration with the Port of South Whidbey.

The council study sessions were used to generate and prioritize the areas where we need to change or add codes to implement the Comprehensive Plan. The director of community planning, Larry Cort, gave educational presentations on development regulations and an overview of the Langley waterfront planning issues.

Improved communications is evidenced by a stronger working relationship between staff to coordinate project applicant needs and timelines. The city Web site is being updated frequently to give the community access to what’s happening at city hall.

There was a wonderful response to our call for citizen advisors to serve on the city’s boards and commissions. I have just appointed 12 new citizens who will help guide our planning efforts. This response to help shape our future is gratifying and underscores the caring community we live in.

We are developing important connections with the local business community directly and through the Langley Chamber of Commerce. As Langley’s mayor, I sit on the countywide Council of Governments where we are addressing emergency management, affordable housing and climate change.

These initial accomplishments reflect the quality of the people working at city hall, both on staff and on the council. Everyone involved loves Langley and are working from a place of passion, giving their all. I am honored to be a part of this great team.

As we look forward to the next 100 days, I will be focused on putting together the mayor’s Council on Economic Development and revising our code to create a Parks and Open Space Commission.

With Challis Stringer bringing new leadership as director of public works, the city will look closely at the priorities for spending funds for the improvement and maintenance of our streets and utilities.

In addition, the city is taking the lead in providing coordination for Neighbor-to-Neighbor Langley. This effort will be building a web of community support to address emergencies and neighborhood needs. The city has partnered with the Langley Community Club, who is sponsoring neighborhood action grants, to inspire neighbors to work together to improve some aspect of their neighborhood.

As I reflect back on these past days, I feel a strong sense of being called to this work, and blessed to be engaged in creating the Langley we all want. It is a full and fulfilling job. I appreciate the ongoing support and involvement of the council, the staff and the community. It does take all of us!

Paul Samuelson is the newly-elected mayor of Langley.

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