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Your Opinion: Action team co-chair cites Topeka experience

Your Opinion: Action team co-chair cites Topeka experience

January 15th, 2012 by Bob Gilbert, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

I am writing in support of the sales tax and want to provide some perspectives as a former action team co-chair and visitor to another community who went through a similar process.

First, as an Old Town Action Team co-chair, I look back on the flurry of activity in 2011 and remember the many meetings where volunteers from all over our community sat around tables ironing out real ideas that would have impact and make Jefferson City ready for generations to come. Our Action Team was blessed with around 50 individuals who were split among four subcommittees to address specific needs and tasked with discovering what would make a difference, and what proposal we would make to the community to accomplish it. Hundreds more were similarly involved on the other eight Action Teams. I think we all were seeing the potential our community has to better itself, and become a community all Missourians would be proud to call the state capital.

That brings me to the other perspective - another state capital that was able to turn the corner to a better future - Topeka, Kan. I was fortunate to be part of a large group of citizens, business leaders and government officials from Jefferson City that went on a community visit to Topeka in June 2010 before Transformation had really begun. We learned about a community who felt they were at a similar crossroad just a few years before when they began a community visioning process much like what we were just embarking on with Transformation. What is the result there? They also developed their list of priorities with widespread citizen involvement, passed a sales tax and are implementing that plan now. They have also since earned acclaims such as being one of "10 Best Cities for the Next Decade" by Kiplinger and the international notoriety of Google changing their web presence one day to "Topeka" because of the grassroots campaign by the young people of Topeka to attract the tech giant to choose them in a contest.

So, will we win national acclaims like Topeka has recently? I don't know. But I do remember the spirit of the people of Topeka when I visited - it was a refreshing, forward looking, optimistic group of young and old who caught a vision of the future. I see similar spirits rising here as well.

Transform Jefferson City. Vote yes on Feb. 7