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The Effective Planning Commissioner

Working Effectively With Elected Officials

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How often have you made a particularly difficult decision as a planning commissioner but then left the room relieved that any angry people you failed to placate can appeal to the governing body?

Most communities give that recourse to citizens and it is generally a good idea. As an appointee, you do not have the same responsibility to the electorate as your community’s elected body.

However, you are not doing your proper job as an appointed official if most of your commission’s opinions are appealed, and especially, if a majority of your rulings are subsequently overturned. If that happens often, you may think you are taking the high road and the elected officials are merely pandering to the voters, but it also may be a signal that you and your fellow commissioners are out of step or have not done all you could to lobby for your points of view. …

End of excerpt.

photo of Elaine CoganElaine Cogan, founding principal of the Portland, Oregon planning and communications firm of Cogan Owens Cogan, has consulted for more than 36 years with communities undertaking strategic planning and visioning processes. Cogan has been honored for her work on a variety of citizen involvement projects.

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