Q and A: Julie May says Farmington city council job was hard workFarmington City Council member Julie May concluded her first council term during Monday’s meeting. May chose not to run for a second term. Before her last meeting, she shared a few thoughts about the challenges and rewards of being an elected official.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Farmington City Council member Julie May concluded her first council term during Monday’s meeting. May chose not to run for a second term. Before her last meeting, she shared a few thoughts about the challenges and rewards of being an elected official.
Why did you originally run for city council?
Well, I ran unsuccessfully in ’06, and I got quite a few votes, so when it came time again, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I should try a little harder’ because the first time I didn’t make any signs or anything like that....
I never had any aspirations, when I was younger, to get into politics or anything like that. I certainly wasn’t motivated by that. I found out that it’s not … I mean, I enjoyed my term, but love the job? No. I can’t say I loved the job. It’s really a hard job.
Given that, what has been something more on the rewarding side of being a council member?
It is rewarding when you talk to residents and businesses and they have support for each other’s viewpoints. I’ve always taken this job as a representative. It’s not about me. For that, I feel like I represented those who voted for me. I kind of stuck to what I campaigned on, and I think I’ve had the support of those people from the beginning. I think that makes me feel pretty good. I think the senior center move, that was a big decision early on. I still think that was a good one, I just think we should have had a plan for the old center from the beginning. Getting the CIP plan on paper, the way it is, even though it’s still obviously not funded, but that was good to see happen.
For you and your decision-making process, do you have any guiding principles? How do you make your decisions for the city?
I have a conservative viewpoint. I’ve been working since I was 16 in the private sector, and a lot of that time in the financial world, so I’m always trying to make sure we’re looking at things from the most efficient way. I think that’s probably what got frustrating for me, was that a lot of people say that government is like a business but it’s not. It’s still a little fuzzy to me, exactly what that means. I think it should be more looked at like a business, at least, as far as creating efficiencies and things like that. A lot of times it comes down to your gut. I told myself early on to vote on what I felt was on good principles and not with my heart so much, and that’s really hard. It’s like telling your kid, ‘No, you can’t have that now.’ You want to give it to them, but you can’t because you’re trying to teach them the value of a dollar or whatever. It’s kind of that concept where it would be much easier to just give it to them, and that’s really, really hard. I wish we would have worked better as a team. That really disappointed me. If there was any disappointment, it was that. I’m one of the team, so I’m as much to blame. I hope that changes.
Have you lost lots of sleep over the past few years?
Well, I think it’s definitely added stress. I was just thinking about that today. In a few weeks from now, when this starts getting behind me…. We’re all generally here for the right reason. I told my boss today, I think I spend more time on it than I think I do. After four years, you kind of get wrapped up in it.
In your time on council, what’s going to be the most memorable aspect?
It’s a good experience. Like I said, I never thought about politics at all, and it’s really helped me, as an individual, to understand more about how everything works. I really feel like I represented at least a faction of our community. There isn’t one big decision we made that is the most memorable. It’s the process. I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of it now, but I just can’t do another four years.
Do you have any final thoughts for Farmington residents about your time on council, or about the community?
I would like to see more residents get involved. That’s a little disappointing. I think cable TV is a good thing, but on the other hand, there’s something to be said about when you have a room full of people looking at you, and I think council needs that more often. That face to face.... Whenever anybody called or sent an email, I was like, “Send it to everybody,” or “Call everybody.” Don’t just call me. Sometimes you’re just preaching to the choir, so you need to take the time to get involved…. More people who are business managers, business owners, I think we could use that representation, or that business perspective would be good.