What makes Billings City Council exciting? NOT the long meetings, but the power you have…

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Billings City Council in 2019, courtesy of KULR8

For many, the answer would not be the lengthy meetings and pages of documents in which our dedicated members of the Billings City Council must engage every week. Instead, it is the power we have as citizens to elect people whose values reflect our own, and whom have a direct influence on our daily lives.

Billings City Council has been deliberating over many complex but important issues which directly affect our lifestyles in Billings. We trust our elected representatives to stay abreast of these matters, and it’s more important than ever to take our local election to heart this September.

This year, Councilman Brent Cromley from Ward 1 will end his second term. Candidates who are running for that seat are Kendra Shaw, Jim Ronquillo and John Armstrong.

In Ward 2,Councilman Roy Neese will run again for his appointed seat. Contenders are Randy Heinz, Michael Richardson and Roger Gravgaard.

Councilman Chris Friedel from Ward 3 will not run for a second term. Candidates who would like to fill that position are Danny Choriki and Aldo Rowe.

Ward 4’s Councilman Reg Gibbs’ first term ends December 2019. Pam Purinton, Gordon Olson, Nicole Gallagher, Daron Olson, Carmelita Dominguez and Mathhew Senn are running for that seat.

And in Ward 5, Mike Boyett, Lellahni Kay, Jennifer Merecki, Frederick Wilburn and Dennis Ulvestad are running for the seat Councilman Richard Clark will be leaving this December after his second term has expired.

All candidates have been invited to Billings TrailNet’s Trailblazing Celebration, and we hope you will have an opportunity to meet them there or learn about them during the coming months. 

This article was submitted by City Council member, Penny Ronning.  Ms. Ronning represents residents of Billings in Ward 4. To learn more about her, please see the City’s website here.

In general, city, state, and federal governments work together for the common good and to provide services to citizens and visitors. In regard to certain laws, a visual picture of a vertical hierarchy of government would be appropriate. In this picture, city government is at the bottom; state government is in the middle; and federal government is at the top. Again, for certain laws and services, this is a factual visual image.

However, for many laws and services, tipping that vertical hierarchy of government on its side so that the different levels of government appear to be running parallel to one another would also be appropriate and factual.

One might think that it is only in the second visual image of the governments running parallel to one another that we give away our individual and local power, but it’s actually in both images.

Let’s start with the second.

In the image of governments running parallel, each level of government functions uniquely. This ability to function uniquely is necessary because cities and states vary in size, landscape, and population.  It’s also an act of freedom. With this unique ability, cities and states can determine their own course of economic development; their own growth design; their own sense of community lifestyle and values; and so much more.

City government effects and affects individual lives on a daily basis more so than state or federal government. It’s also the level of government where we give away our most valuable citizen power – our individual effect and affect on government.

In the governments running parallel image, citizens have the power to influence the value and values of the community in which they live their daily lives. That power of influence comes in giving public comment, communicating and meeting with elected city leaders and city staff, and serving on city advisory boards or commissions. City council members are legislators like state legislators and members of U.S. congress. City councils are a policy making body and have the ability to initiate and enact resolutions, ordinances, and contracts. Your voice at a local level has great power.

In the first image of the vertical hierarchy of governments, many see this image as a top down form of power and it is. However, it is also a bottom up form of power.

City initiated and enacted resolutions, ordinances, and contracts are major influencers on economic development; public safety; and infrastructure investment to name a few. State and federal policy often starts from information discovered, learned, and/or initiated at a local level. City leaders often meet with and speak with state leaders and most especially federal leaders and their staff. Elected federal leaders spend a great deal of their time in Washington, D.C. To learn what is important in the communities within the states they serve, their staff and the federal leaders themselves reach out to city leadership. Your voice at a local level has great power.

Our country is a patchwork quilt of millions of different communities and we are all responsible for the character of the one in which we are a part. If the value and values of your local, state, and federal government don’t match yours, check the amount of time and influence you have been giving your local government. Is your local government influencing the change you want to see in the world?

If not, use your power. Don’t give it away.

Which ward is yours? Find out here: