“Where there is no vision, the people perish”
Working together to promote honest, meaningful conversation.
We need your ideas, thoughts and concerns.
How to determine life’s values.
Bring transparency to local government.
Even before I decided to run for public office, I embraced a simple mantra to guide my professional and personal life. As quoted in Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I embraced this philosophy to help ensure the success of my family, my community and our government.
As a Commissioner, the Johnson County 2030 Living Our Vision report had been the bedrock to my decision-making. It contains a number of components that begin to outline a strategy for meeting the challenges of the 21 st Century in our community.
It was a good effort by the citizens that participated in the process. But it was not enough. Consequently, I have consistently urged my fellow Commissioners to embrace the outline offered in this report and put them into action.
The six core themes of Johnson County’s Vision 2030 are:
In order to have a heart and provide the services needed, we must have a head and use our resources wisely. The Vision is clear. Continued action is needed.
As a professional community development facilitator, I routinely work with individuals, groups, teams, organizations and communities to promote honest, meaningful conversation. That process is often difficult but it is just as often necessary to find true solutions and make substantive change. It is difficult sometimes because people will disagree. But, I would add that people should disagree!
I believe this is still true. I would also add that as a local government, we must continue to improve our ability to identify, understand and embrace ideas that may be different than the prescribed and that may frustrate the norm. That is part of the reason why I champion continued training and development in our county workforce.
For all of the communities in Johnson County to be successful, we need your best thinking. We need your ideas, thoughts and concerns. We must be open to those who may disagree with us, who may be wiser than us.
I have long believed that, when given the opportunity, the voice of the people is the best source for solutions and actions. In 2012, Johnson County initiated a citizen engagement process to help us understand and set priorities for our budget deliberations. This effort was featured in the Kansas Leadership Journal (Pgs. 68 - 75) as a model for other communities.
While efforts like this are a step in the right direction, we need to do more. Government should not only be open but inviting. Your voice is important. I encourage you to contact me or any elected official to discussion your ideas and concerns.
That’s a question we all ask ourselves. When it comes to Johnson County financial decisions, I use the “IDD Golden Rule”. In the last several years, the waiting list for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled has continued to increase. These are our most vulnerable citizens. Their parents are aging, and their life options are limited.
When proposals come before the Commission, I ask myself, is this request more important, more impactful, more valuable that attacking the IDD waiting list? If the case can be made, then I will listen and support the action before us. If not, then I do not believe I should support it.
Over the last several years, staff has proposed any number of projects, programs or initiatives that, standing alone, may sound reasonable. These range from bigger parking lots, more artwork, more subsidies for sundry groups to tax breaks for selected projects. On any given topic, we should not only debate the relative merits presented but we should questions the absolute needs they address.
It is incumbent upon the Commission to honestly discuss options and set priorities. We may not all agree with the IDD Golden Rule; but, I believe we must always strive to squeeze value out of every dollar spent.
Johnson County is, by far, the largest local government in Kansas. Responsibilities are shared among the Board of County Commissioners, an elected Sheriff and District Attorney, and several independent boards. Funding sources are wide and varied including sales taxes, property taxes, fees, fines, levies, grants, gifts, and transfers, to name a few. Information is presented in a number of venues governed by seemingly arcane accounting and budget rules as well as State and Federal laws.
Almost by default, this government structure makes our decisions and actions overly complex and, in many cases, murky. As an elected official, I believe we have a duty to present ourselves in open session and ask questions about how we conduct the people’s business. We should be able to explain and understand priorities and justify every expenditure. I invite you to review transcripts of our meetings or watch complete videos of our proceedings. Your questions, ideas and concerns are important.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
Copyright © 2022 Michael Ashcraft for Johnson County Commission. All Rights Reserved.
Paid for by Ashcraft for County Commission, Matt Bingesser, Treasurer