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Our Opinion: Comments lend clarity to city’s ‘vision’

Vision is among the most overused and least understood words in the political vocabulary.

Based on his comments in a Sunday News Tribune story, Jefferson City Administrator Steve Crowell understands vision and his role in creating it.

We define vision as an incremental view of future growth and prosperity. In Jefferson City’s case, a vision would establish goals for the city to attain in the next five, 10, 20 years, etc.

In comments on his first 90 days as the city’s chief administrator, Crowell discussed development of “outcome-based performance measures.” He added: “We want to talk more about the outcome we’re trying to achieve and then try to provide performance measure on those outcomes.”

The outcomes are the goals, or — put another way — vision for the city.

Crowell side-stepped the vision question, per se. He deferred not only to the mayor and council, which is diplomatic, but to city residents, which is commendable.

“I think that (developing a vision for the city) is a mayor and City Council decision and direction,” he said. “Now, hopefully I have some input on how we go about doing that.”

We agree generally, but would be more specific.

We believe an elected chief executive — mayor, governor, president — is responsible for articulating a vision. This is an important component of leadership.

The chief executive also is responsible for working with the elected representatives — councils, legislatures, Congress — and staff to hone the vision and to develop strategies to achieve goals.

And, of course, at the core of this process of setting goals, crafting policies and governing is the best interests of the people who are represented.

Crowell alluded to the importance of public input and transparency when he said: “It’s outreach and, I think, engagement with the public. I certainly want to make sure that we provide good customer service. I want to make sure that we engage the public. I want to make sure that we’re able to explain what we do and why we do it. I want to make sure that we focus on the outcomes that we want to achieve, not just the stuff that it takes to achieve those goals.”

If that’s not an appropriate vision for a city administrator, we don’t know what is.

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