There are few things more riveting than a good city council meeting — you might see an hour of debate over billing at the city dump, impassioned citizen input on road maintenance or, if you’ve been watching the last few meetings, a careful discussion about what exactly constitutes prostitution. Sitting on council is a tough, and sometimes tedious, job — but someone has to do it to keep Casper running. Well, nine people, to be exact.
This week, I chatted with one of them, new council member Kyle Gamroth, about his first few weeks as an elected representative and where he’s hoping to go from here.
Ellen Gerst: What does your council prep routine look like?
Kyle Gamroth: All the packet materials come out on Friday afternoon, so typically I'll spend either late Friday or Saturday night trying to get through as much of that as possible. I think this last weekend, there were probably 500 pages in the work packet — it takes me several hours to get through those packet materials every weekend. Everything's so busy Monday and Tuesday, if you don't have the chance to reach out to city staff to get some supplemental information, you're going into the meeting on Tuesday night — you know, hopefully you've read all the materials, but they don't always have all the answers. It's great to have an opportunity to ask questions beforehand. Government in general is complicated, and the decisions that you're faced with aren’t black and white, easy yes or no decisions, so hopefully I’ll be able to kind of give people a little bit of a reveal behind the curtain.
EG: What have you been doing to help people see behind that curtain and engage with the council?
KG: I get a lot of feedback online, but what I would tell people in the community is, half of your city council isn't online, they don't have Facebook. It's a great place to air your grievances, but if you want to create meaningful change in the community, and if you want your representatives to hear you, my suggestion would be to reach out on email, to come speak to us at a meeting, or for those of us that do have council pages, tag me and ask me on my council Facebook page and I'll address it. I've been trying to do what I can to educate folks and address misinformation in the community. But it's a lot of work for me to go to all of those news threads and go through the comments and identify where my time could be spent well, educating people and providing resources. I found at least several cases of somebody that was genuinely looking for information and I was able to get it to them.”
EG: What’s an issue you have on your radar right now?
KG: The feral cat feeding ban is one of those issues that I felt like the city council really dropped the ball on. They spent hours talking about that issue specifically, and in five minutes on Google you can find out that a feral cat feeding ban, as far as I can tell, has never proven to be an effective way of managing a feral cat population. You can look at the thousands of other communities in our country alone that have tried that, and it hasn't worked. So why would we even entertain the idea? To me, it didn't make any sense. I've connected with some of those folks that protested in front of City Hall and spoke to council that were really passionate about that issue, and they have some really interesting ideas about how Metro Animal Shelter could partner with nonprofits to fund trap, spay and neuter programs to manage the feral cat population. We have lots of people in our community very passionate about this issue that are already volunteering their time and effort to work towards a better outcome. That was part of the reason I ran for city council, the frustration of elected officials not identifying those areas where we have people in the community that care passionately, that are willing to help volunteer their time and effort to get something done.
If you have any tips on things going on around Casper or know someone you think I should interview in the future, drop me a line at email@example.com.