I wish every Pearland resident would take the time to see what I saw.
I don’t recall what exactly drove me to apply to be a commissioner on the Pearland Planning & Zoning committee. Maybe it was to learn more about Pearland and the people who lead it, maybe it was to understand how decisions are made regarding the growth of our city, maybe I just wanted to participate rather than watch, or maybe a government “by the people, for the people” means that I am supposed to step up. Regardless of whatever it was that moved me, my application was accepted, I interviewed with city council, and soon after I received a letter from the mayor inviting me to be a Pearland Planning & Zoning Commissioner.
Professionally speaking, I am a corporate officer in a global company with over 30,000 employees so I am accustomed to tackling complex problems and working collaboratively with stakeholders worldwide toward effective solutions. I approached this volunteer role with the same zest, often driving to properties to get a better understanding of resident needs, and getting opinions from the occasional resident that might wonder what I was doing when I visited a particular property. I took the role seriously, knowing that Pearland residents are counting on thoughtful decisions from their Planning and Zoning Commissioners.
My first meeting with the other Planning & Zoning commissioners was challenging for me. I had studied the comprehensive pre-reads but still wasn’t familiar with the multitude of acronyms, jargon, process, and protocol that shot across the meeting table as I did my best to follow the dialogue. The primary thing I learned that first day was that I had a lot to learn. This is when I began to learn about the best of the City of Pearland – the city staff.
I called the head of the planning department and was invited in to spend time with different staff members to learn about the planning department, the elements of zoning, platting, the UDC, CUP’s, PD’s, and other areas. I got to spend time with some of our city employees and, having gotten to know some of these professionals, developed a strong confidence in their abilities and dedication. With regular frequency, I sat with staff to understand issues and learn how I could better collaborate to have a positive impact.
As a result of this journey, I’ve formed a strong opinion regarding our city which I am compelled to share. We have many reasons to trust our City of Pearland government. City staff works very hard, very smart, and is eager to deliver to residents a quality product. This is something I got to see through my experience interacting with them. It’s easy to point out the challenges of managing a business as complex as a city, find fault at every turn, develop a mistrust of government, and voice discontent on social media. It’s considerably more difficult to get involved, learn the issues, know elected officials and city staff on a personal level, and come to appreciate that our city is well managed by committed people with the most honorable of intentions.
To my mind, the government “by the people, for the people” suggests to me the way we view our local government may be a reflection of ourselves. With that in mind, I’m glad I took the opportunity to participate in our local government and know that my own values are shared robustly within the business of managing our city.
And I wish every Pearland resident would take the time to see what I saw.
By David Selsky Former Planning and Zoning Commisioner