Sally Cook is one of three rookie city councilors elected to office in the May 17 local election. She is the third that Salem Weekly has interviewed in the months since then. We asked Sally about her hopes for her term and for the future of Salem.
SW: In a few months you will be serving as the new Ward 7 City Councilor. What thoughts do you have about that?
Sally: We only have so many moments to spend on this earth. I want to make sure the time I spend, especially in these meetings, is as productive as possible.
SW: New councilors receive training on how to do the job, such as how to speak, how to get projects done, how to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned?
Sally: The new councilor orientation has been a great way to get to know city staff. It is important to remember that anything the incoming councilors see is available to residents of Salem.
When was the last time you rode with an officer? Visited a firehouse? Do you know where our wastewater treatment plant is, or what happens to a library book once it has been returned? If you talk with city staff, everyone I have met is glad to tell you about what they do and how it could work better.
The protocol set within the city is designed to bring order to many moving parts, not to become a net, preventing people from moving forward. If someone has difficulty navigating the system or feels frustrated with the result, the neighborhood association is a great place to recharge and gather perspective. Everybody has their days; no one should feel that one bad experience determines all future interactions with the city or that an unfavorable outcome is an excuse to abdicate all responsibilities as a neighbor.
The strongest outcomes are those that have been tested and we can find new creative solutions for problems once we work together. I am so excited to continue working with my neighbors in this capacity.
SW: What adjustments have you begun to think about to be able to handle this new 20-hour/week time commitment?
Sally: When I first thought about serving, I recognized it would be a commitment. I made the choice to volunteer on boards when I was a stay-at-home mom because I feel like it is important to give back. We couldn’t give much money, but I had an abundance of time. I was lucky to have had 7 years to spend time at home, with my kids. That experience gives me a perspective that I will bring with me to council.
My husband and I talked before I made my choice. I felt that if I didn’t try to make the neighborhood better, I would always feel that ache of possibility as time goes by. He supported my choice to run and it is hard for both of us, but we make it work. I support him through his work and hobbies and recognize that he needs to do things that make him happy.
I feel so energized talking with people and finding creative solutions to problems. Working with my neighbors is the best investment I can give my kids and husband, as well as my neighbors. I know no matter how hard I am working, there are many people in my ward, pulling long days too! I will work hard to make sure that where we live is a good place, where everyone has an investment in what happens.
SW: What is your obligation to the residents of your ward?
Sally: The residents of the ward are the people I am accountable to. Not just for the election, but because they live down my street. Our neighborhood provides a safe community to live, work and play. They expect that I do my best, apologize for mistakes, learn from them and move on to improve livability for our ward. I will do this by fostering community involvement, communication and trust.
Strong neighborhoods – providing support to cultivate what makes each neighborhood special and work with residents to address problems and foster a livable community for a diverse populations.
Safe Streets- ensure safety for all forms of transportation and the diverse needs of the community to improve mobility. Enhance area trails and connectivity to address mobility issues across ages.
Smart Growth- pursue a balanced and sustainable local economy that increases livability for area residents and addresses the needs of visitors while supporting environmental sustainability.