Quick Take: John Stefanski, City of Hayward, CA

Posted on September 6, 2014

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As we prepare for the ELGL & ICMA joint event at the ICMA Conference, attendees describe the current state of local government, their mentors, ways to strengthen local government, and of course, their dream six-pack. Link: Raise Your Hand If You’re Going “Back to the Future” with ELGL and ICMA.

John Stefanski


City of Hayward, CA – Management Fellow

Connect: LinkedIn

Name your career mentors.

Kelly McAdoo Morariu, Assistant City Manager, Hayward, CA

Dr. Philip A. Russo Jr, Director, Center for Public Management and Regional Affairs, Miami University

Megan Statt-Blake, Assistant Community Development Director, Wyoming, OH

Describe the current state of local government.

Local governments are in an interesting position today. For the most part revenues have slowly crept back to their pre-recession levels, yet very serious budgetary issues still remain for many local governments across the country. These issues were largely precipitated by states balancing their budgets on the backs of local governments. To compound these strains, a looming pension crisis is only adding more stress to local governments. Clearly tough decisions for local governments will need to be made in the near future.

Yet even with this gloomy outlook, local governments are re-energizing. Today’s local governments are embracing technology, quantitative program evaluation, strategic planning/ management, and performance based budgeting methods as a means to attack and get in front of these looming problems. While there are still some foreseeable hurdles to jump, I am optimistic that local governments, now more than ever, are very capable and well equipped to take them head on.

During her presidency, Bonnie Svrcek encouraged ICMA members to do “Just One Thing” for the organization. What can we do to strengthen local government?

Foster an environment that embraces creative thinking and treats failure as an opportunity (to a reasonable extent). The challenges facing local governments in the future will require creative and innovative solutions. The path towards reaching these innovative solutions will inevitably involve failures. Local government professionals must create environments that embrace failure as a learning opportunity rather than allowing the fear of failure stifle innovative and creative thinking. Doing this will open the opportunity to discovering new and better ways of doing old things.

In keeping with the beer tasting theme, tell us what we’d find in your ideal six pack.

  • Brooklyn Summer Ale (if summer)/Great Lakes Christmas Ale (if winter)
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • 312 Urban Wheat Ale
  • Anchor Steam
  • Golden Road Hefeweizen
  • Lagunitas IPA

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