Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hicks sees her new role as city council member a continuation of her life of 'taking care of people'

By Courtney Ehrler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
One of a series of looks at new City Council members.

Sara Hicks called the glamorous metropolis of Los Angeles and the sunny beaches of Naples, Fla., home for much of her professional career. But since 2004, the quaint town of Midway has been where her heart lies.

Hicks posed with other new
members at their first meeting.
Hicks grew up outside Midway, so her return to the heart of the Bluegrass brings a familiarity with the community and its lifestyle. She said her new position on the Midway City Council is grounded in her love of people and genuine desire for a better community for all.

“I ran for city council because I love Midway and I love people,” Hicks said. “I wanted to be a voice for people so they felt like they could tell somebody and something would get done.”

Her career as a licensed marriage and family therapist laid the foundation of a strong fondness for people and taking care of them, something the role of therapist and city council member share. Her background brings a different perspective to the council and approach to community issues.

“I have an expertise in communication and also in psychology because of my career, so I’m very people-focused. I think that sometimes when you’re on the city council it can be a lot about ordinances, zoning, things like that,” she said. “I think at the heart of it, you really have to take care of your people and that’s what my career is about: taking care of people.”

As the council continues the two-year term that began last month, it will undertake some fairly large issues the community faces. In agreement with other council members, Hicks said the water and sewer system would be the major item to tackle this term.

“Clearly the water infrastructure is the most important issue,” she said. “We had a community forum last week, and hardly anybody showed up and that really saddened me because it’s such an important issue.” About 35 people attended the first of three public meetings on the issue. Hicks said community interest in the water and sewer issue is important, but acknowledged that not every citizen is as tuned in and passionate about the project as she and her fellow council members.

Two months into the two-year council term, she is finding her place on the six-member council and capitalizing on her background in connecting with people and improving their lives. “I’m a rookie,” she said, so her short-term goal “is to study the issues, be responsive to the public, and continue to learn about what it means to be a city council person.”

Her care and concern for the Midway community came through in an interview, when she discussed her involvement in multiple committees devoted to making Midway a better place to live.

Mayor Tom Bozarth appointed her to the Cemetery and City Property Committee where she hopes to make the cemetery “more beautiful, to be a place where there is tree diversity for people to come and see different types of trees.”

Hicks volunteers at Northside Elementary School and is a member of Woodford Tomorrow, an organization dedicated to improving the community through economic development and natural resource preservation. Bozarth has asked Hicks to attend the Woodford County Economic Development Authority meetings. “I’m very interested in Midway being a part of looking at increasing our economic viability in Woodford County and making sure that the way that it develops respects our agricultural base,” she said.

Hicks is chair of Midway Renaissance, a non-profit membership organization striving to promote the city of Midway, reduce the city’s environmental impact and encourage local business and the arts. Last year the organization held a contest for children to create designs for shopping bags to cut down on paper and plastic grocery bags.

Hicks wants Midway to move toward a sustainable future. “I would love it if every house had rain barrels, if people had cisterns, if everyone eventually had solar panels,” she said. “We are doing really well with our recycling, but not every house recycles. I would like to see every house in Midway recycle.”

Midway Renaissance has had some conflict with Bozarth and the council in past years. The organization withdrew from the Kentucky Main Street Program in February 2011, saying in a press release, “The partnership between Midway Renaissance and the governing body of the City of Midway regarding participation in the Main Street Program has not been the type of relationship that is conducive to effective and sustainable participation in that program.” Becky Moore, who preceded Bozarth as mayor and was a supporter of Midway Renaissance, resigned from her post on the council in January 2012.

While the history between the council and the community organization has been uneasy at times, Hicks said she does not intend to have conflicts with the mayor. “I think when I’m at the council meetings I’m representing Midway and the citizens of Midway,” she said, adding that Renaissance is “for the arts and the environment and history. I don't think that’s a conflict of interest with the city. I hope it isn’t anyway because I wouldn't want to do that.”

In her first few weeks, “What I’ve really been happy to experience is that all the members seem to be strong in their care for Midway and respectful of each other,” Hicks said. “I feel like we’re a really good team and I feel like we’re going to get things done.”

1 comment:

Msralyn Burstein said...

Al,Thank you for taking care of Midway still!
Maralyn Burstein