Welcoming All Who Enter
By Mayor Mike Ley
I’ve shared with many of you that walking the streets during my mayoral campaign was eye-opening, even as a long-time resident. The experience and what I learned has stuck with me and provides inspiration all these months later.
As I walked mile after mile, I saw and appreciated many things, and also recognized where things could be improved. That’s why, at the beginning of my term, one of the things I committed to was expanding my understanding of the community and how we, as representatives of city government, can better serve the people who call Auburn home.
As a former 20+ year government employee, I am well acquainted with much of our local government. Now, as Mayor, I am focused on partnering with our department heads to make our service the best possible experience for community members. That’s why over the past few months, I’ve joined various departments as they go about their daily duties. For example, last week I joined our Street Department as they conducted the latest round of our Fall Leaf Pickup. I’ve also accompanied members of the Auburn Water Department to the top of the Duesenberg water tower, joined Parks Department’s staff and volunteers for the Halloween Walk, and observed the Auburn Police Department in SWAT training. These experiences reinforce how vital infrastructure, support and public safety are to the livelihood of our community. They also give us the opportunity to examine together where we’re doing things well and where we can improve things.
Additionally, through the citywide movement (see here), I’m coming to better understand the informal social infrastructure that supports our community. I’m getting acquainted with the work of the many non-profits in Auburn and throughout DeKalb County. A different non-profit comes and speaks to City Council each month.
As I remember my door-to-door campaign walks, I am also struck by something else—what it felt like to walk up to a home of someone I did not know. A house or business with a welcome sign immediately put me at ease and made me feel more comfortable. And it made me feel like we could have a friendly and respectful conversation. We want the same feeling for those who engage city government. In fact, one of the first things I noticed when I started as Mayor is how that sense of welcome, openness and approachability is part of the culture here. Every department welcomes every citizen and works hard to respond to their needs.
Imagine what could happen if we all responded to each other in such an inviting manner—if all who approached a home or business felt they were welcomed unconditionally. In fact, I think such a posture toward others means even more in our society today and could be a real unifying force.
So, I ask you, just as I would ask our department heads, how can we make others feel welcome? What can we do to serve better? How can we be most helpful? Maybe it’s as simple as starting with a smile on your face or with a welcome mat at the foot of your front door.