Government / Politics

COMMENTARY: The Mission And Standards Of Local Government

With so many issues always on the table, it’s important to step back and review the fundamental mission and standards of local government
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The Institute for Local Government, sponsored in part by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), defines its organizational goal as assisting local leaders to govern in certain ways. We can restate and refine their stated goals in detail to define the mission of local government. 

The mission of local government is to foster and sustain a safe, healthy, enriching and enjoyable community by working collaboratively, governing openly, effectively and ethically.

Those 25 words cover it all. Whether the county or one of the cities is installing a massive water project or merely considering weed abatement, if local government would dedicate itself to those principles governing would be both easier and better, but easier is still not easy and better is still not perfect.

In many cases, today’s decisions are based on our estimates of tomorrow’s needs, but that’s all they are – estimates. No one can predict the future, they can only learn from the past and prepare well to improve their chances of success.

Unfortunately, it is in preparation and fundamentals that local governments often have their most significant failures. The workload is usually driven by today’s crowded schedule, rarely by thoughts of tomorrow’s needs or standards of performance.

It’s up to the citizens to challenge their local government leaders and executive staff by applying the mission statement in question form to their work product. Does this decision and implementation foster and sustain a safe, healthy, enriching and enjoyable community and are you working collaboratively, governing openly, effectively and ethically?

The quality of governance is inherent in the definition of local government mission and that judgment lies with the electorate. Do not accept platitudes and excuses for answers, set your standards high and challenge elected leaders and executive staff to meet those standards. We do not just want work, we want good work. After all, the conditions under which we live have a major influence on our entire lives.

You do not get the quality of government you deserve, you get the quality of government you’re willing to accept.


Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.