Council difficulties with community engagement

The Keizer City Council met for a work session on Monday, Dec. 11, to discuss and review the final draft of the city’s Strategic Plan for the Future. Discussions included steps to implement the plans six goals over five years. 

There was a heated discussion over the process used to solicit community input for the plan. 

In all, 770 (1.8%) Keizer citizens took the community engagement survey which was noted to be smaller than what Sara Singer Wilson, owner of SSW Consulting, would have liked. 

At one point, Council President Shaney Starr threw her arms up in the air, noting an issue the City Council faces, “We have missed critical opportunities for engagement,” said Starr. 

Issues became more apparent when the council began discussing the surveying that city staff and volunteers conducted as only 12 individuals responded to the survey. 

Starr asked City Manager Adam Brown what city staff did to distribute the survey to staff and volunteers. 

Wilson, the hired consultant explained that surveys were based on email templates given by the consultants and were “distributed to all stakeholders noted by the council,” Wilson said. 

Brown agreed on the distribution though no clear answer was given as to why there was such a low number of respondents. 

One volunteer, Parks Advisory Board Vice Chair Lisa Cejka, noted they did not receive such a survey nor were they told about it. 

Councilor Kyle Juran noted that he did receive a survey email although the email was confusing and did not make it clear the survey was attached. 

Starr stated that the issue she had with the plan was that for being a strategic plan created from community engagement, there was little actual engagement with the community to learn what they want. 

The council determined that more responses needed to be gathered to help improve the community engagement aspect though no information was given as to when the survey would be made available. 

The overall purpose of the work session revolved around going through and reviewing each goal and sub-goal laid out by the plan alongside Wilson and determining what was helpful and what was not as well as what needed editing or clarification. 

Wilson read aloud each of the six goals and 55 sub-goals, then stopped to allow time for the council to review and then ask questions. 

The goals the plan lays out are as follows: 

• Promote a safe, healthy and attractive community preserve the quality of life

• Develop and enhance transportation infrastructure to support a safe, mobile and connected community 

• Align resources with financial and economic policies to support a thriving local economy 

• Improve communications and strengthen relationships within the community and organization to build trust support decision-making and foster a welcoming community for all. 

• Responsibly plan and invest in community infrastructure and built environment to foster sustainable growth that preserves Keizer’s small-town feel 

•Promote a resilient and financially stable organization equipped to meet the needs of a growing community 

The council discussed sub-goals such as an increase of homeless resources. 

A copy of Keizer’s Strategic Plan for the Future is available for review at