Community Strength Comes from Community Participation and Government Accessibility
The strength of a community is dependent upon its people, and I am grateful to Robin Goldsworthy, one of Crescenta Valley’s most formidable business women and dedicated volunteers, for inviting me to write a regular column in the CV Weekly. She also happens to fit well into the theme of my first column because my experiences with her help demonstrate one of my philosophies on governance, and the importance of civic engagement in our communities.
I’ve always believed that there’s no monopoly on good ideas. When I first convened my Small Business Advisory Commission in January 2013, I didn’t know exactly what would happen. I did know that bringing together a diverse group of local business owners, including Robin Goldsworthy and CV Town Council President Robbyn Battles, had the potential to create something great. I could never have imagined just how great it would be.
Their input and willingness to work together led to the first substantive reform of Prop. 65 in nearly 30 years, a reform that has protected small businesses across California from meritless lawsuits. And my Small Business Advisory Commission is just one example of how good ideas come from all sources and all different types of people. I’ve received great ideas from everyone from rank-and-file police officers, to Republican business owners, and even folks I run into at the airport. The bottom line is that when someone has a sound proposal, you shouldn’t ask whether that person is a Libertarian or a Green Party member; a long-term Californian or a recent transplant; well-connected or an average citizen.
That’s why I believe so strongly in communicating directly with the public and being as accessible as possible. Over the past year, I’ve been proud to host seven different town hall meetings and public forums on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to ensuring a bright educational future for our children.
Two weeks ago, while dedicated volunteers from across Crescenta Valley prepared for the kick-off of the Hometown Country Fair, I was joined by more than 50 local residents for a town hall meeting on “Building Responsible Government” at the Glendale YWCA. Topics discussed at the event were as diverse as those in attendance, but we all agreed that government can do more to reduce the burdens and hassles faced by everyday people. Most important to me was that I was able to answer a question from every person in attendance who wished to ask one.
The point of all of this reminiscing is to say that I value your ideas, responses and feedback. Like town hall meetings, reading and responding to this newspaper column provides an opportunity for you to speak directly with me.
I am truly thankful to serve as your representative in the California State Legislature, and look forward to speaking with you in the coming months.
Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.