As we embark on fall 2020, there will be some changes in the Town of Chino Valley. For starters, the town will have a new mayor beginning Dec. 8. Jack Miller, a long-time community member and the town’s current vice-mayor, will assume the role of mayor for Chino Valley.
Tom Armstrong, who has been on the Planning and Zoning Commission, will become a Chino Valley council member, duly elected during the town’s primary election. The General Election scheduled for Nov. 3 will determine the last new council member. With only two new council members and the current council having some experience with the town’s challenges and issues, there comes a level of consistency that will allow for an easy transition; thus, council can continue to focus on their respective areas without much deviation from their current priorities.
Another change for the town will be the securing of a new town manager. Cecilia Grittman will be retiring after 20 years of service, the last four years as the town manager. We are using an executive search firm to look for our new manager and have heard from an overwhelming number of people who are interested in serving our community. We hope to have the new manager on board in early 2021.
Simultaneously, the town clerk who has served our community for 20+ years is also retiring. Jami Lewis has been a dedicated employee and exceptional town clerk for Chino Valley and we wish her well in her new adventures. Erin Deskins, a paralegal who previously has worked in the court system, has been deputy town clerk and will become the town clerk upon Jami Lewis’s retirement in early December.
These changes can seem scary to some, but mostly are positive for our community. With change comes opportunity.
I’d like to take this time to also commend the Town of Chino Valley staff members and all the hard work they do for customer service. The first week in October was National Customer Service Week. Everyone working for the town – all the elected officials, the members of our boards and committees and all our volunteers – works selflessly to support our community year-round.
Obviously, customer service from department to department or division to division manifests itself a little differently, but ultimately our citizens don’t care about that and we all get grouped together. Points of contact for the public can be markedly different, but the experience should be similar. Being intuitive about what individuals are seeking when they ask a question can be paramount to a positive customer service encounter. We’ve worked hard to eliminate the following:
Inconsistent and sometimes confusing answers to (what can be) technical questions. The average citizen may not understand setbacks, water credits, site plan review, HURF funding, enterprise funds, etc. We need to explain things in language that all can understand and our message needs to be consistent.
Lack of transparency in the governmental process. We are very transparent in our processes, but if someone doesn’t understand what we are saying, he or she might not understand the next steps and therefore may think the process was not transparent or we weren’t upfront. We will continue to work on the Unified Development Ordinance, Engineering Standards and other areas to refine our processes
and make things clearer for the public. I believe we have the right staff and council in place to ensure this and carry it through to a finished product.
We all need to keep an open mind when dealing with our citizens who are often confused about access to government services. We need to think from their perspective when communicating with them. For example, they might not understand why a code complaint may take several months until resolution, or the public process involved with a rezoning matter. Being as clear, accurate and timely as possible benefits us all and becomes an efficient use of our time. All of this applies to our internal customers as well, especially treating our fellow workers with respect. I encourage us all to always try to look at things from a different angle or lens. QCBN
By Darryl Croft, QCBN
Darryl Croft is the mayor of Chino Valley.