Municipalities throughout the state that are members of the Municipal Association of South Carolina receive a magazine relevant to what they do. Uptown, produced by MASC, is also received by media outlets throughout the state.
In a relatively few pages — January's edition, for example, is only 16 pages, which is fairly normal — MASC shares stories about successes municipalities are having throughout South Carolina, as well as articles that impart sage advice to elected officials and the managers who work for them and the taxpayers.
Therefore, it was and is refreshing to note a quick read included in January's edition. It provided some good advice for newly elected officials as the new year begins and some are coming off November elections. What makes this Top 5 Things newly elected officials should know information box refreshing is the fact it comes from elected officials' peers and not from the media or the voters; yet, it contains some of the very information voters and the media sometimes hammer — or feel as though they must hammer — home with officials.
We share the Top 5 listing below because we know it to be relevant and we know some elected officials might have missed it in their reading of the publication. And, certainly, there's the remote possibility some have yet to get a copy and might only glean the information from this page of the newspaper.
Again, these tips are from the state association that serves the people elected and appointed to municipal leadership positions and not from the media, the state press association or any voting bloc with a special interest:
1. Your leadership role. As you transition from campaigning to governing, broaden your focus from your campaign issues to all of the issues facing your city and consider all viewpoints.
You are now part of a team, not a single candidate. To be a successful leader, you must work with other members of council, city staff and others in the best interest of the entire community. Learn to focus on the big picture and understand your role as a policymaker.
2. Your city. Become familiar with your city's history, form of government and ordinances. Review past council meeting minutes to get up to speed.
Learn what services your city offers and the various roles and responsibilities of those who work for the city.
3. Your city's finances. Study budgets/financial statements for the current year and from previous years. The budgets will show you the city's priorities and how they were funded.
4. Your role in conducting effective meetings. Simply attending council meetings and work sessions is not enough. Meetings are where council does most of its work.
Understand your city's rules of procedure, including how items are placed on the agenda. In advance of a meeting, study the agenda and information about what will be discussed. Come to meetings prepared to take care of the city's business.
5. The Freedom of Information Act and state Ethics Act. There are two significant laws that help ensure public officials are held accountable for their actions. Understand the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and the state Ethics Act.
Great advice as the new year gets underway. And while the Top 5 list was directed at newly elected officials, evidence is abundant many current and long-serving elected officials should reacquaint themselves with the list and make them tenets of the job they are elected to perform.