in Musings, Politics, Raleigh

Highlights of 2009: Public service

It makes me laugh when I think of my coworkers seeing me rush to take a call during the day. They have no clue that I’m often talking with city councilors, police officials, company bigwigs, or reporters. That was the case in 2009: another banner year for me for public service. I did things this year that I’d never done before and those challenges paid handsome dividends.

I began to really come into my own as chair of the East Citizens Advisory Council (East CAC). The presentations were interesting, the fedback was glowing, and people began to take notice. Several of my initiatives resulted in the largest attendance ever at the CAC. I created CAC business cards, started a CAC blog, ordered signs for putting out days before our meetings, and even dabbled in streaming video of the meetings on the Internet. I even held a “history night.” I believe these were all firsts for a CAC.

The chairpersons of other CACs began to take notes on what I was doing. It’s becoming a leader of leaders. And it seems now our area earns more respect from city leaders. Plans are being drawn up right now to completely revitalize East Raleigh’s major thoroughfares. It’s an exciting time to be in East Raleigh.

I’ve also reached out to leaders in the area. Representatives from Raleigh Country Club, St. Augustine’s College, Enloe High School, and WakeMed have all attended meetings. I’m working now to keep them talking as this cooperation is crucial to improving our neighborhoods. This cooperation hasn’t always been there in the past but my efforts are slowly changing that.

One of my favorite accomplishments in 2009 was spearheading relief efforts for a neighbor who lost her husband in a tragic fire. Brenda Pulley lost her husband and her home in the March 2009 fire but thanks to the generosity of our neighbors she soon had furniture, clothing, food, and money. I am very proud of the wonderful outpouring of support the community showed for one of its own.

Another accomplishment was asking the police department to establish a field office in the local shopping center. The shopping center battled crime for years as it languished in foreclosure. I set up a meeting with the police chief and district commander and got the ball rolling on the field office.

While the lease has not yet been signed, crime at the shopping center is already significantly down. The property is under new ownership and is being managed locally. Things are looking very positive for this long-neglected community asset and it will only get better.

I’ve also been active on Raleigh’s Parks and Recreation board. I haven’t missed a meeting since I was appointed, and have become quite comfortable working with the rest of the board. It has been a good lesson in balancing the needs of various stakeholders, providing something I don’t normally get at the CAC level.

Whenever I could, I attended ribbon-cutting and other ceremonies. I enjoyed presenting at the Fred Fletcher awards and also the design symposiums I got to attend as part of my board membership. It’s been a great education.

Each Parks board member is asked to serve on a committee. Mine has been serving on the board of Mordecai Historic Park. I’ve greatly enjoyed learning about the history of Mordecai and attending the various events held there.

One notable event was when I served as a judge in Mordecai’s baking contest. It was fun while at the same time being a bit more challenging than I initially anticipated. Next time I will have to train for it as an athlete trains for a competition. It really requires some dedication!

It was a great year for public service and, surprisingly enough, 2010 looks to be even better!

[Update 6 January]:
I forgot to mention another of my prouder moments this year: getting the speed limit changed on Edmund Street. In response to the neighborhood complaints, I walked the neighborhood on two days and collected signatures from residents. The new signs went up days after I got the required 75% (and the City Council approved). It gave me great pride to see this visible improvement in the neighborhood.