It’s no secret that interacting with our environment, and other people, requires the input of one or more of our five senses. Most, or all, of which are extraordinarily sharp in our youth. However, as I’m beginning to discover, with each pass around the sun, one or more of our senses begin to undergo changes just a bit.
While I could certainly reap some benefit by my sense of taste for food being diminished, it’s my sense of hearing that seems to suffering the effects of too many birthday cakes. This presents a bit of a challenge to someone who has frequently found himself in a position of having to listen to different sides of an issue then suggest a path towards resolution.
Whether coaching youth sports, settling a dispute between siblings, or now listening to important issues facing our community, the ability to hear and actually listen, has been pivotal. In every case, each side believes they are correct and all others fall short to some degree.
Over the course of the last nine months, as the Chairman of both the Board of County Commissioners as well as the Hernando-Citrus MPO (regional transportation planning board), I’ve had the unique opportunity to sit squarely in the middle of a five-person board and a nine-person board respectively. Each of those individuals were elected by the majority of the voters for their governing philosophy, position on issues, and ability to represent the voters interests on the board. As an individual vote on the boards, at times I disagree with a position being taken to the left or right of me, but as the Chairman, I’ve found that the ability to listen to all sides, and facilitate an orderly expression of all sides, is important to arriving at a consensus on many important issues. In fact, the ability to listen is sometimes the only way to establish communication and is essential to maintaining productive relationships.
With so much change on the horizon for Citrus County: The desire to expand economic opportunities, protecting what makes our community so special, and restoring what’s been neglected, the ability for everyone to listen to all points of view will continue to be imperative. Possible significant expansion of our roads, parks, bike/walking paths, utilities, water restoration activities, and continued economic development efforts, will provide a seemingly endless number of opportunities for us all to speak and listen, which is a good thing.
Both the Board of County Commissioners and the Hernando-Citrus MPO have various advisory councils assembled specifically for the purpose of listening to community input and offering advice to elected officials prior to formal discussion and vote. Whether it’s roads, bike paths, planning/development, tourism, etc. community participation through these venues again provides an avenue to not only offer ideas, and opinions, but also know when it’s time to put down the microphone and really listen.
In the months and years ahead, there will continue to be numerous issues to be discussed, many with voices of great passion from advocates speaking on behalf of what they believe is right. As one of your county commissioners sitting on both boards I will continue to encourage you to step forward to give, and listen to, input. As the Chairman for both boards for another three months, be assured that all sides will have a chance to be expressed, and encouraged to carefully listen.
Now, back to that taste for birthday cake, and it’s effect on my hearing. If, or when, I ask you to repeat yourself, please don’t take offense; I blame it on my 52nd celebration looming only weeks away!