Owens: Learn, then make tough choicesTom Owens said Woodbury needs a vocal and visible mayor as it enters a new stage of growth in uncertain economic times.
Tom Owens said Woodbury needs a vocal and visible mayor as it enters a new stage of growth in uncertain economic times.
Owens said studies have shown cities need to dramatically change the way they deliver services to avoid facing budget problems. Woodbury is doing well financially, so has time to take a hard look at its operations. Owens said as mayor he would spend time with employees in all departments, from administration to public safety, to better understand what they do, which services are most valued and how to improve how those services are delivered.
“It’s my job to be in tune with the community and to know what services our citizens expect from our city,” Owens, 57, said.
Outside of City Hall, Owens said as mayor he would get involved in many civic organizations and maintain a public presence.
“I think you’re going to see high visibility from me,” he said.
Owens said he proved in the insurance industry that he could lead an organization through reforms that saved money without laying off employees. Woodbury needs a similar review, he said.
Owens said the mayor must play a role in regional economic development and transportation organizations, but also must be prepared to ask city staff or volunteers familiar with the issues to participate.
Observing council meetings, Owens said he is surprised how much is decided with little public discussion. There is a similar perception among residents, he said.
“There are people out there who believe that (attending) a council meeting is a total waste of time because their minds are already made up before they even got there,” he said of council members.
Even if that is not the case, Owens said, that is a perception the city must be willing to address.
At a glance: Tom Owens
Woodbury resident: 18 years
Occupation: Self-employed insurance agent
Family: Married, three adult children
Civic involvement: None