Participation in a Mayor Exchange event can be an important role in local government, It’s a great way to share ideas, meet people going through similar triumphs and struggles, and make networking contacts. This year’s Mayor Exchange is taking place with the city of Wayland.
Pairing with a city close in size to Lowell is ideal. In the past Lowell has hosted and visited cities including Belding, Hudsonville, Rockford, Davison, Coldwater, Greenville and Portland. An exchange with Wayland also took place in 2004. According to their website Wayland has just over 4,000 residents within city limits. Wayland’s City Manager Timothy McLean, Mayor Tim Bala, City Clerk Michelle Herman, and Superintendent of Public Works Cole Lutz were among those who visited Lowell on Friday, May 19.
A full schedule filled the day. The morning started off meeting at City Hall followed by a walking tour of the Riverwalk. Some social time over muffins occurred at Main Street Inn. Next was a tour of the Lowell Historical Museum, Water Plant, Department of Public Works, and fire station leading up to lunch.
After a brief ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery honoring Charles Knapp as part of National Police Week it was on to the airport, biodigester, and Lowell Light & Power offices. The day ended with a tour of the Police Department and City Hall. Lowell will visit Wayland on Friday, June 16.
During a Mayor Exchange event there are opportunities to network, share ideas, and discuss things that have and have not worked in a community. Various representatives can gather informally with peers. Councilmember and former Mayor Jim Hodges has taken part in 17 Mayor Exchanges during the 23 years he has spent on City Council. He says, “Mayor Exchange is really for the City CouncilMembers and City Staff to meet and know their counterparts in the other communities. Most importantly, this opportunity helps to see the successes and failures of projects and possibilities that are being tried and tested other places.”
It was during an exchange with Hudsonville where Hodges learned about the idea of having a consistent time allowing for citizens to talk to councilmembers in an informal, neutral location. Coffee with Council is this opportunity for Lowell residents, occurring the first Saturday of each month. Hodges is looking forward to traveling a bit south to Wayland next month.
Councilmember Alan Teelander was part of last year’s Mayor Exchange with Portland. But this year he says of spending the day with officials from Wayland, “I loved watching ‘our’ employees communicate with ‘their’ employees on how we save money through research, innovation, fabrication and looking for opportunities to improve our service to our citizens.” It’s easy to form a camaraderie with someone with a similar job description.
Next month Lowell representatives will learn about what Wayland has to offer and continue forming a relationship with their counterparts.