Carson dives in to Summit County Council seat
January 11, 2013
Newly elected Summit County Councilmember Kim Carson has spent the last several months observing County Council meetings, and is eager to take her own place at the table.
"I’m excited to actually be in the position and get into the groove of things," she said. "I’ve been attending meetings, but it’s different when you’ll be responsible for making decisions on major topics. So I’ll be spending more time studying. And I’m looking forward to hearing from the public about what their concerns are, and getting into this with both feet."
Carson said attending the county council meetings has been extremely helpful, and the position would be much more daunting if she didn’t have that experience.
"I feel like I know how their meetings run pretty well, and I’m familiar with the types of things they deal with," she said. "There were a lot of meetings that both [Councilmember Roger Armstrong] and I attended that were open public meetings, where we sat down with all the department heads. It was extremely helpful in improving my understanding of the budget and building my confidence in their budgeting abilities. It was really heartening to see how much work they did on their budgets."
Carson said she wished that those who spoke at the budget public hearings on Dec. 12 and 19, either for or against the tax increases, had heard the discussions in the county council’s budgeting work sessions.
"It would have answered a lot of questions they brought up, and would have given them the opportunity to provide input," she said. "The department heads have made a lot of cuts over the last four to five years, and I think they are working on a pretty streamlined, bare-boned budget right now. You can always find ways to adjust here and there to make it work, but I don’t want to get to the point where we are really compromising the level of service we are providing to the constituents of Summit County."
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While there has been opportunity for public involvement with the budget, Carson said the county could provide more opportunities, such as including members of the public on the county’s budget committee.
"People with different backgrounds and expertise can lend a different set of eyes," she said. "And I would like to see how we can disseminate information so it’s more accessible to our constituents and more clearly laid out. The county has made great strides in the last few years getting that information out, but there’s always ways to improve how easy it is to access it and how clearly it explains what we really want to get across."
Her experience serving on the school board from 2003 to 2010 got her used to serving on a public board and working directly with constituents and staff, she said.
"The form of government is similar to what I worked with on the school board, where we had a five-member board and we had a superintendent or manager," she said. "So that’s very familiar to me. And now I’m really excited for this opportunity, and plan on working hard and making good sound decisions for Summit County."