Welcome to Episode #0010 of the podcast and our first conversation with a Riverside elected officical. Ward 3 Councilperson Mike Soubirous won the November 2013 contest to install an elected replacement for Rusty Bailey (who left the seat to take the Mayor's position) and Ken Guiterrez (who was the appointee to fill in prior to the November race).
Here's the honest deal: I didn't vote for Mike. I was put off by the tone of his campaign materials for his earlier campaign for County Supervisor and I wasn't terribly impressed with the same in the Council campaign (where the rhetoric was decidedly more aggressive than his opponent's). After the votes were counted I had a new representative in city government -- not my choice but still the one set of ears to which I could sound my own concerns and desires for my community.
I went to hear Mike speak to a meeting of the Magnolia Area Neighborhood Alliance. While I didn't agree with all of his presentation, I did find him to be a good listenter when I brought up my points contrary to his talk. In the following days and weeks I was pleasantly surprised to find evidence that Mike did indeed consider my concerns and took action toward addressing those concerns. Not a difficult concept but one that is quite refreshing for a voter when put into practice.
In the months to follow we would see Mike (along with Ward 4 Councilperson Paul Davis) listen to the outcry from the citizenry and successfully challenge the rest of the City Council to call for an independent audit of the Sewer Fund. We would also see the City launch "investigations" of Mr. Soubirous and Mr. Davis -- with no further explanation or information from the City. Meanwhile Mike sat down with the Press-Enterprise and repeated his e-mail and phone number to his constituents with a prompt to get in touch for any questions or comments. At the time of this posting pretty much all we know about these investigations have come from the investigated.
Long story short: Mike and I aren't on the same page about every issue (who is?) and I'm happy I didn't dismiss the guy who didn't get my vote. He's still my best conduit for my voice in the game of city government and I admire his own description of his elected office (listen!). We had a most enjoyable conversation last week (at Ward 3 independent business Lift Coffee) and I'm very much looking forward to watching Mike through the rest of his first, abbreviated term on our City Council.
- Ralph from Riverside