Right Now with Ben DeClue (LinkedIn/Twitter)

What I’m ReadingChilde Roland to the Dark Tower Came

What I’m Doing – Getting mentally psyched for GenCon 50!!

As many of you might have noticed, a slow roll-out of a new Buzz format has begun.  Rather than supplying you, dear reader, with interesting links and news of the day, Buzz hosts now will begin supplying original “blog” style content.  One thing we have consistently heard (and witnessed with site traffic) from our membership is that they appreciate the original content that we are able to provide.  Buzz hosts are free to write about any topic they wish and I have no doubt that you’ll see a wide range of perspectives and topics covered from our amazing team. On with the show…

My message for today is simple: believe in yourself.  In the last month I have found myself in a unique position in our profession- both our City Administrator and our Mayor quit within days of each other, leaving our community in a state of uncertainty.  Who was in charge?  Who could make decisions and ensure continuity of operations?  I was only an Assistant to the City Administrator and have never run a community on my own before, let alone without a mayor as well.  I felt prepared to run a city on my own, having applied and been a finalist for the big chair in several communities over the last six months, but until you sit in the chair and make the decisions and realize you’re working without a safety net, you can’t ever really know if you’re “ready” for the big job.  I had a choice – would I shy away from being in charge and let someone else come in on an interim basis?  Would I take a job in another community that was less challenged?  Would I step up and take on the mantle of leadership in our organization and the responsibility that comes with it?

There was no easy answer, but I ultimately decided to stay and give my all to my current community and see them through this unique period in time.  I was given a promotion to Assistant City Administrator and will serve as Acting City Administrator until a new City Administrator is hired, likely in 6-7 months.  I opted to believe in myself, in my abilities, and in my training and preparation for having a city of my own.  I can’t claim to know every solution to every problem, but I’m trusting in my subject matter experts- our department and division heads- to help me make decisions and trusting in the political leadership and desire for stability from our City Council to help get us through this unique event.

The laws of mayoral succession are extremely vague in Missouri for 3rd class cities like Lebanon, so our first “crisis” to be dealt with was the question of who the next mayor would be and how the city would function without one in the meantime.  At one of my first work sessions sitting in the “big chair” I recommended a fully transparent and public process for selecting a new mayor.  I felt that taking applications from interested parties, conducting a public interview and holding a public reception to allow residents to meet interested parties would be the best way to go and show that the city was moving forward from the past and willing to listen to new voices in the political process.  Thankfully the City Council agreed with me and we just concluded our candidate interviews and public reception last week.  All of the applicants names and application information was released to the media, as were their submitted answers to our bank of questions.  It was important to me, in my first outing as Acting City Administrator, to help guide our Council through essentially uncharted waters while remaining committed to being as transparent and public as possible.  We addressed the issue of how the city functioned without the mayor’s specific executive authority by crafting a resolution that empowered our mayor pro-tem to act in a limited capacity as mayor to ensure the business of the city continued as usual.

I think there are others that would have wilted in the face of these challenges.  I chose to believe in myself.  I think you should too.

My recently experiences have made me think a lot about one of my favorite pieces of poetry lately.  I’ll leave you with a few of the closing verses:

Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it toll’d
Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears
Of all the lost adventurers my peers,—
How such a one was strong, and such was bold,
And such was fortunate, yet each of old
Lost, lost! one moment knell’d the woe of years.

There they stood, ranged along the hill-sides, met
To view the last of me, a living frame        
For one more picture! in a sheet of flame
I saw them and I knew them all. And yet
Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,
And blew “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came.”

3 comments on “07.18.17

  • Linda Goldstein says:

    What an amazing and inspirational post “Believe in yourself”! Based on what you’ve already done and your future plans for addressing the situation, it sounds like you are up for the challenge. I look forward to hearing updates about how things are going.

  • Jon Amundson says:

    Excellent article Ben, I really appreciate you sharing your personal experience. I can relate to the introspective questions of readiness for the “big chair.” It appears that the City of Lebanon is lucky to have you and will be a better community for the commitment you’ve made and willingness to do the right thing during challenging times.

  • Amber Mathiesen says:

    The message to “believe in yourself” is one that is worth repeating often. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I will look forward to reading updates as the city steps forward.

Comments are closed.