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December 2008 home page

Seven (or more) Habits for Successful Counciling
December 2008 | Dave Druker, retiring City Council Member


The following snippets are some of the ways I approached being a member of the Del Mar City Council. None of these are original, but it is almost impossible for me to determine the origins of these homilies.

Be reasonable – unfortunately like pulchritude, reasonableness is in the eye of the beholder. So, follow the rest of these rules.

Be tough on the problem and easy on the person.
Not all problems are solvable nor should every problem be solved – so pick your challenges/opportunities.

To solve a problem determine what the objectives for the solution are and the criteria for determining that the problem will be solved.
When most people speak, even if you disagree with them, there may be a kernel of truth in what they have to say. So don’t dismiss everything someone has to say, even if you disagree with most of their arguments.

Don’t get in front of the parade unless there are people behind you.

Don’t argue with a person who buys ink by the barrel.

Learn to count to three. You only need three votes to get something passed by the council. If someone on the council vehemently disagrees with the majority, debating for debating’s sake is counter-productive.

Read your packet.

Ask questions of staff even if the staff report is obvious – you are representing the people, and the people may not have read the report and will not have the same understanding that you and the staff have.

At regional agencies – read your packet, ask questions and show up. Being at the meetings is over 60% of the battle. 

At regional agencies, what is best for Del Mar is probably best for the region.

Don’t try and be the smartest person in the room; be the best listener. Your job is to represent the people.

You will make mistakes. Admit the mistake and apologize.

Planning issues should not be determined by legal threats.

Finally, in government, process is more important than final results. If the process is incorrect, the results will be seen by many as flawed. A good process will usually create a good result. The process always needs to include as much public discussion as possible and decisions being made in open sessions.

Good luck to new Members, Don and Mark. I hope that you will find the experience on the council as fulfilling as I did. Thank you to the residents of Del Mar for giving me the honor and privilege of serving you for the past twelve years and seven months.


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