Let’s start Monday with a little optimism.
Sunday was a beautiful day, bright and sunny. I and 24 others spent that gorgeous afternoon at the home of Commissioner Holly Davis, continuing the strategic planning process that is Davis’ top priority in office.
It is no easy task putting together a strategic plan that touches on the environment, quality of life, economic conditions and the role government plays in all that. Most people wouldn’t go near it.
Davis, whose livelihood is marketing and strategic planning, embraced the idea and presented it to the public. The county had two community sessions, then a pair of invite-only meetings involving 40 people whose names were agreed upon by all commissioners.
Many of those 40 were in Holly’s house Sunday, having some fairly significant conversations about the issues that matter most in our community today, tomorrow and next decade.
I’m not going to get into all that today. The county is still collecting suggestions (citizens can chime in here) and the plan is in the “making sense of all this” stage.
Hopefully, when it’s all done, the strategic plan will mirror in general the feelings of Citrus County residents and business owners of what it is we want and how best to get there.
For Davis, the timing couldn’t be better.
It hasn’t been easy for Davis to get much traction on the strategic plan. She gets a lot of deer-in-the-headlights looks when talking about it (including from me), and her support on the county commission is somewhat lukewarm. Though, to be fair, that may be more about not understanding what it is she’s trying to accomplish than actual opposition to a strategic plan.
When Davis mentioned during last week’s commission meeting that she planned Sunday’s gathering to start zeroing in on specific ideas, outgoing Commissioners Scott Carnahan and Ron Kitchen Jr. said fine, just make sure it doesn’t cost the county anything. Not exactly a resounding endorsement.
Then fate intervened.
Turns out Steve Howard, Citrus County’s new administrator, is a strategic plan guru. The information packet he gave commissioners on his achievements included a copy of the Camden County, Georgia, strategic-planning brochure, listing accomplishments and a timetable for other goals.
When I interviewed Howard after the county commission voted 5-0 to accept his contract, he specifically mentioned one commissioner: Davis. Howard said it’s unusual for a single commissioner to take on strategic planning and he was eager to join that quest.
I mentioned that to Holly during Sunday’s gathering. So it was pretty cool a little while later when Howard showed up with his wife, Marjorie, and 4-year-old daughter, Madelyn. They were out house hunting and Howard accepted Davis’ invite to drop in.
Howard was clearly impressed that two dozen of Citrus County’s leaders would give up their Sunday afternoon to discuss community goals. (That’s him in the picture with Josh Wooten and Holly.)
— Every so often I need reminders that this county is filled with good, caring people who really want a better Citrus for us all and will work to make that happen. Sunday’s gathering did that.
— Sure doesn’t hurt Commissioner Davis to have the new county administrator in her home for a community conversation even before the guy starts his first day on the job. That’s good news for us all.
Look. I realize “strategic plan” is the stuff for glassy-eyed conversations, but it’s vital to good government. Especially if plans are the result of citizens and government joining together, as is the case here. It’ll be interesting to watch this evolve.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.