'Coffee with a Councilperson' launches this week
Mayor Diana Rich will kick off this series at Retrograde on Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 10 to 11:30 am.
Talk to any Sebastopol City Councilmember, and they’ll tell you that the best and most interesting part of their jobs is the casual conversations they have with people around town. These conversations often lead to important insights and even out-of-the-box solutions to local problems. At the very least, they let councilmembers know what people are worried about most.
But for the most part, these conversations occur by happenstance. The formal, structured nature of city council meetings actually discourages this kind of casual give-and-take dialogue.
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That’s why Mayor Diana Rich and Vice Mayor Stephen Zollman decided to launch “Coffee with a Council Member.” Rich is kicking things off this week by appearing at Retrograde on Wednesday, Jan. 31, from 10 am to 11:30 am — ready to chat.
“It's important to engage the public and make sure that everyone has access,” Rich said. “It's recognizing our collaborative role and our obligation to do outreach. And it’s actually the fun side of being a councilmember. Honestly, what I enjoy most as a councilmember is just talking with people and connecting and hearing their ideas.”
Rich continued, “I was sitting next to Councilmember Maurer at a recent gathering, and she said—and I agree with her—that many of the ideas that end up developing into solutions come from the comments from the public questions and comments and ideas that we hear from the people who live in our community.”
“This is just another opportunity for all of us to hear what everyone has to say, to engage with our community and to actually also bring our community together in our businesses,” Rich said.
She compared these gatherings to the recent Lunch with a Councilperson events the city council did last year at the Senior Center.
“It was very relaxed,” she said. “But people also asked really pointed questions, specific questions about their own interests, and then we followed up with either answers or connecting them with the appropriate staff people,” Rich said.
“Some of the issues were familiar to me, but I learned quite a bit from their ideas and their suggestions,” she said. “I found it to be a very useful opportunity in both ways. It wasn't just that that I was sharing information with them. It was also that they were sharing information with me. I found it to be really collaborative and definitely not just fun and engaging but worth the effort.”
Coffee with a Councilmember events will be held on the last Wednesday of each month from 10 am to 11:30 am. Locations will rotate among various coffee shops in town. The City Council hopes to schedule in as many of the councilmembers as possible over the course of the year.
Upcoming ‘Coffee with a Council Member’ dates
Wednesday, Jan. 31: Join Mayor Diana Rich at Retrograde Coffee, 130 S. Main St., 10 am to 11:30 am.
Wednesday, Feb. 28: Join Vice Mayor Stephen Zollman at Brew Brothers Coffee, 962 Gravenstein Highway South, 10 am to 11:30 am.
Wednesday, Mar. 27: Join Councilmember Sandra Maurer at Coffee & Moore, 6761 Sebastopol Ave., from 10 am to 11:30 am.
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