Council can do better working together

As a leadership development practitioner, I have been struggling with the recent conflict amongst my fellow councilmembers regarding the rule change which limits our ability to ask questions during public testimony.

While robust dialogue is the backbone of democracy, we also need to maintain a welcome and respectful environment. I too am frustrated when councilmembers circumvent public testimony to voice their perspective, but it is hypocritical for all councilmembers to not recognize our own indiscretions in this process. By changing the rules to eliminate questions, we are avoiding the source of the issue and hindering our ability to make effective decisions.

When rules or laws are imposed without a thorough process that addresses the root cause of the issue, the result is often lack of compliance. You can discipline a member or give someone a fine, but in the end, further segregation and dysfunction will result until all are willing to come together, learn from the past, move forward, and commit to a shared solution.

Since taking this seat of responsibility, I have suggested that our council convene informally to work through these processes with the hope of bringing clarity, agreement, and action toward how we do business. Instead of governing as a team for the best interests of Kauai, we are in constant competition with each other. This can often result in ineffective political compromises that serve no one.

Like many organizations, we lack the commitment to building a healthy organization that problem-solves in a collaborative way. Conflict is an integral part of decision-making — but we need to ensure that conflict arises not out of competition, but from a place of trust and shared commitment to Kauai.

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Mason Chock is a member of the Kauai County Council and a Lihue resident.

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