The annual retreat will include — for the first time in many of the elected officials’ memories — a collaboration between new council members and the three councilmen who were voted out of office in the November election.
A collaborative effort
Council members said they were open to the expanded guest list. The more voices around the table that were included in the planning of the next few years of the city, the better, they said.
“I think it might be good for the transition,” said Councilwoman Cris Welsh.
Welsh added that the outgoing councilmen would have the opportunity to pass along some of their projects and ideas to the new council members to take on, if they are interested.
“I think it’s good. The more folks you have together, you will get better ideas. I don’t have a problem with it one way or the other,” said future councilman Jim Sebastian.
Every January, the mayor appoints people to sit on committees throughout the city, and assigns council members to oversee city departments, said Mayor Mark Mathews. This year he wanted to let the departing council members have the opportunity to stay involved in the process, he said.
“Coming off of the council doesn’t mean you are leaving the city,” Mathews said.
The old and the new will be expected to discuss their visions for the future of the city, Mathews said, in broad terms only. The council periodically sets goals for the future, he said, and the retreat is a chance to refresh these goals, and to discuss where elected officials see the city going.
Outgoing city councilman Bruce Jenkins said the group is likely to discuss items like the use of smartphones and tablets during city council meetings. Rather than banning these devices he said he may put forth a recommendation that includes some type of “electronics pledge.’ Jenkins is not sure what the conversation will look like, but hopes it will be discussed.
“I am going in with an open mind,” said newcomer Debra Williams.
Williams said no matter who was in the room, she would be certain to remain loyal to her beliefs and values as a new councilwoman, as the voters made clear that they wanted her voice to be present in city business during the election.
“The new people have their own visions. We bring in an entirely different background of experience and talent and that is what we are going to work with,” she said.
This Saturday is an uncommon day to hold the council retreat, usually they are held closer to the new year, Welsh said, which is when the council votes to approve the mayor’s appointments.
It was almost impossible to find a time and day that worked with all nine of the attendees, who each have different jobs and roles within the community.
“It is the only day that all of the old and new can meet,” Mathews said.
The group will convene in the morning, but will make sure to be finished in time for the Auburn vs. Alabama football game Saturday afternoon, Williams said.
The retreat will be in the training room in City Hall, at 2529 J O Stephenson Ave, Kennesaw from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The outgoing council will meet Monday, Dec. 2, for its regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 at City Hall.