City Council President Aaron Bowman is taking steps to change the notoriously short-term thinking of politicians into a mindset that takes a longer view.
Because of term limits, and the annual change of council presidents, the council tends to operate in one-year cycles. Obviously, some issues remain in the political realm much longer than that.
Noting that it is the 50th anniversary of consolidation soon, Bowman told Eye on Jacksonville that he believes better strategic planning would be in order.
As a retired Navy captain, he certainly is aware that short-term thinking can leave an organization unprepared for rapid change.
He has a number of ideas on that score.
One is to formulate a strategic road map that will look out five or more years and establish policy priorities he hopes would carry over through each council president’s term. He has introduced a resolution to establish such a road map, based on ideas suggested in a June meeting.
Another is to have the council provide some input to the administration while the mayor is preparing the budget each year that he presents to the council for approval. That way, the council might not be making as many back-end changes as it considers the mayor’s budget.
On the subject of the budget, Bowman said he thinks the mayor’s budget is “pretty strong.” He believes that even with less new revenue than it would have had absent new property tax relief there will be enough to pay for the city’s top priorities.
- He believes the city government “does a pretty good job” of providing public access to public records and meetings. His predecessor was concerned enough about that issue to establish a task force that was critical of the local government in some respects.
- He does not foresee any revival of the issue of selling the city’s electric, water and sewer utility, at least until after next year’s elections.
- Bowman, who also is the senior vice president of business development for the JAXUSA Partnership, said he is encouraged by the development taking place downtown, such as the plans to build a hotel at the Berkman II site on East Bay Street and the prospect of a new convention center, and believes that city incentives to aid such development are necessary and proper.
- Should the city prevail in ongoing litigation, he favors removal of the Jacksonville Landing and replacing it with mixed-use retail and office space.
But his main focus is on being aggressive and proactive in making the changes he proposes before next July, when his term ends. The council he heads already is due to get three new members soon, and about half the council will bow out next June because of term limits. This impacts continuity considerably.
With that in mind, his visionary ideas about longer-term planning make a lot of sense.