December is a month of service. It is a time to share gifts and talents with our friends and neighbors. It is a time to celebrate the small things. One of these small things is the motto under each of Logan's signs, reading, "Logan, CITY united in service." This Wednesday I had the privilege of interviewing Mayor Petersen about what it means to be the city united in service.
Kayla Swenson: How is the motto, "City United in Service," reflected in Logan?
Mayor Petersen: I think that one way it is reflected is we have a number of different departments. We have 20 different departments but there really is a unity and a team spirit that's reflected in those departments. One department will say, "Look, we'll help you out. We have some equipment, we have some time, we've got some expertise and even though this isn't our project we'd be happy to work with you to complete your project." I think in a very real sense the city staff is united in service.
KS: Any specific examples?
If you were to drive into Logan coming in the highway from Brigham City you would see a Logan City entrance sign. A number of years ago we thought about doing the entrance sign and we actually hired a consultant to do a plan for it. The plan was expensive and the sign itself was going to be extremely expensive. We decided maybe we can just do this project ourselves. So, the different departments got together and actually constructed the plan. Parks and Recreations did part, public works did part, light and power did part and we built the sign that you see out there for less than it cost to design the other plan. It was a matter of people bringing their particular expertise and their time to work together on a common project. Everyone did their part and in a short period of time we ended up with a very attractive entry sign.
KS: Why is giving so important for a city?
MP: Well, that is what a city really is all about. Cities aren't here to make a profit, they are here to give support for their citizens. If a city doesn't support its citizens, it really doesn't have a reason for its existence. That's what we are here for, to try to make the lives of the citizens easier and happier. We are all about giving. That's our fundamental purpose; giving back to our citizens.
KS: What made you run for Mayor? Why do it?
MP: I've lived in Logan all my life and Logan is my life. I love this city. It's important to me. I think it's a great city and I want to contribute to making it an even better city.
KS: How do you feel you've done that in the past three years?
MP: I think that's really up to the people to say, but I think we've made the work environment as pleasant as possible for it's employees. We try to give raises that are as large as possible. We try to be sensitive to the needs of our employees. We really stress providing citizen-friendly service to Logan City.
I really am amazed, and I take no credit for this because it was really apart of the culture of Logan City even before I came, but I think our employees really do try to be citizen friendly. Let me just give you a couple of examples. One of my department heads was working on a project and some of the material splashed on a elderly woman's car. She didn't complain but we became aware that this had happened. My department head actually went to her on his own time, took materials, and cleaned her car. He had no obligation to do that, but he did it because he wanted to be a good citizen to her.
Another example, we had a widow who put some money aside for gifts to give at Christmas. In fact, this happened just last year. Somehow she lost the money in the trash, and thought, "It's gone, I've lost it." That money came to the attention of one of our city workers and the city worker showed up at her door and brought the money back to her. It was around 100 dollars. I honestly don't recall whether they found the money or just became aware of it. I think what actually happened is they took a collection up and they raised the money to replace what was lost. That's just typical of the service that is provided here.
KS: What is something that characterizes the city and the residents that live here?
MP: I think a pride in and a love for Logan City. You know I'm reminded of a quote by Gertrude Stein, a novelist. One time she was describing Oakland city and she made a famous description. The description was, "There's no there, there." There really was no identity as a city, there was nothing that people considered to be precious or special. I think Logan is just exactly the opposite. People will talk about Logan all the time. In fact we have a number of people that graduated from Utah State University that work for the city simply because they wanted to find a way to stay and live in Logan. I hear that all the time, "Logan is a special place," and "we couldn't wait to come back to Logan." I think it's because it is a safe city. The people are wonderful. It's a beautiful city, and people care about each other.
KS: What makes Christmas special in Logan?
MP: I think again we're getting to be a bigger town but it's still a small town atmosphere where it's intimate. We have important traditions. We have Christmas weather, we have beautiful snowfalls, and we have the mountains nearby. All those things just make it seem like Christmas in Logan.
KS: What have you learned in your time as Mayor?
MP: This is what I tell people, "Everything costs a lot more and takes a lot longer than I guessed." I've just kind of been stunned to see how expensive a lot of the projects are. But I've also learned that people working together as a team can really accomplish a lot. I've learned to trust my department heads because they really are outstanding, they are committed to their jobs, and they have tremendous expertise. I've learned that I don't have to know everything, because I've got people that collectively do know everything.
KS: What are your New Year's resolutions? What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
MP: I would hope that we could continue to improve the lives of our employees. We've got a number of projects that I would like to see completed. One of the ones that I spent a lot of time working on is the construction of a new library. That one, probably more than anything else, would be the focal point. We are still deciding on the location.
KS: Is there anything you would like to say to the City of Logan departments and residents?
MP: I would like to let the Logan City employees know that I appreciate them and how wonderful they've been in their interactions with me. I'd also like to thank them for how great they've been in serving the citizens of Logan.
I'd like to thank the citizens for their support and patience. One of the things that I was told as mayor is that this would be an awful job because you're always dealing with citizens complaints. My reaction to that is, although we do get some complaints, in the vast majority of cases people have been extremely responsible and reasonable. I have zero complaints about the way I've been treated as mayor. Merry Christmas Logan! Thank you for all that you do to make Logan, a city united in service.