I was the mayor of my city for two years after serving for four years as a city council member and four years before that as a planning commissioner and commission chair. The two things my town needed most were more income and a better image. I had built a successful manufacturing business with about the same number of employees and income as the city, and I have a degree in public relations, so I felt I could make a difference in my city’s well-being. Little did I know how much my understanding of boards, balance sheets, budgets, cash flow, company culture, communication, and redevelopment would matter.
As a planning commissioner everything ran smoothly as a good commission should. When I was elected to the city council I began to hear from citizens who had troubling stories of corruption, asking me to fix it. By the time I was elected as the mayor, in 2012 I knew for sure that many of the agencies in my county were not run professionally and did not observe best practice.
It was when I became the mayor that I began to be able to connect the dots between poorly run agencies, obscure and confusing government practices, dysfunctional boards, and missing money.
That was also when I was able to make some changes. I did not do it alone. It was an effort by hundreds of widely diverse citizens who saw problems and stepped up to say something.
After serving my term as mayor I returned as a city council member, and despite the efforts of so many passionate community members who wanted their government agencies to come clean, the corruption had been there too long, and the cabal was too well established to do much good. That’s when I knew that only higher powers could help and that maybe, just maybe, telling the story would motivate more of them, and citizens to know how to make sure they don’t suffer the same fate at the hands of their elected representatives.
“Debbie Peterson’s unwavering work fighting political corruption makes her the best choice for voters.”