When residents talk about Rush – whether it is during casual conversation, or addressing issues before the Town Board, or when asked during canvassing about their concerns – you can expect them to often mention how important the rural quality of life is to them. This is something that the people of Rush really all have in common.
But another generally understood thing is that this quality of life does not just take care of itself. While a rural setting hearkens back to what we tend to think of as a simpler time, the contemporary world is an inescapably complicated place wherever you are. We may be the smallest community in Monroe County, but we still have plenty of issues to deal with.
It is only common sense to say that, as a community, we should be drawing on our available resources to deal with the issues that we face. And our greatest resource is the people of the community. It’s not just that our residents are ones who care most about Rush. It’s that they constitute a remarkable reservoir of initiative, energy, knowledge, and capability.
Small-town governance such as ours cannot meet its responsibilities when it fails to incorporate this vital human resource as a core element of its operational strategy. No four elected townspeople who comprise the governing body of Rush can expect to have all the answers. They are part-time officials without the kind of professional staff that could keep them fully informed and up to speed on everything before them.
A collaborative community is one where all the capability that dwells in our midst is encouraged to be cooperatively brought forth for the common good – as a matter of course. This is happening to a commendable extent now with several very active citizen’s groups, and of course with longstanding civic-minded organizations. But truly elevating Rush to such a status can only be achieved when the governing body leads by example and builds collaborative community into the framework of its process.
This requires the Town Board (officially “Town Council”) to effect a truly open style of governance – where issues are put before the public concurrently with the Board taking them up, and the solicitation of public input starts at the same time. It requires a readiness to partner with any parties who are especially qualified on a given issue. It requires a sincerely non-partisan approach where all input is weighed equitably in the deliberative process. And it requires continuity and thoroughness in keeping the public apprised of how that process is developing and where it looks like it is going, while upholding access for community input.