One of the things I've learned since joining the York City Council is the value the League of Nebraska Municipalities provides to our community. They provide education and training for city staff, councilmembers, mayors, and other related parties throughout the year. They also work to stay abreast on issues related to the Nebraska Legislature and how various bills may affect our community. They're a voice to help York.
I am especially appreciative of the recent conference they held, in which they had various seminars, over two days, geared towards newly elected officials.
This education talked about how city governments receive their authority, what different classes of cities mean, forms of city government, open meetings act, funding/budgeting, conflicts of interest, economic development, public records law, fiduciary duties, and much more. I had the opportunity to ask questions of their staff and they were very helpful.
There has been some interesting case law that has formed how our cities operate, what they're allowed/not allowed to do. An interesting fact, is that cities in Nebraska are entirely a creation of the legislature, with councils/boards only allowed to do what the NE legislature has authorized them to do. This is commonly known as Dillon's Rule- there must be a state law for every power exercised and every action taken by a municipal official or agent on behalf of the city.
For the city of York, we operate under authority as a First Class City, which has a population of 5,001 & 100,000. Our form of government is a Mayor-Council, where the voters elect both the mayor and the council. Under this authority the mayor appoints/removes certain boards and positions within the city government and the council must approve.
There was a plethora of other information that I'm still digesting, but was a very useful experience as a new councilmember. It has also helped me realize why certain things have been done a certain way in the past. I have always tried to give elected officials the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their position, as I know they have access to resources/knowledge/information that I, as the average citizen, may not. Having gone through some of this training, I can definitely see how that could play out in the future. My hope with this blog is to in-part some of that information to others, as much as I am able.
If you are ever interested in running for office, but are concerned about not knowing all the "right" things to say or do, I would suppose that there would be plenty of resources/people that will come up around you to help you succeed in your elected position, just like the league and city of York staff have done for me. Like any other job, there are plenty of things you won't learn until you're "on the job", and I wouldn't let that concern keep you from seeking to serve your fellow human.