The County Connection: Setting county goals... with citizen help

By Sallie Clark

       One of my first challenges as a new county commissioner has been to ensure that both long- and short-range planning are well documented and executed. During my campaign, I heard many comments on how local government should better serve its citizens. So after taking office, I asked our county administrator if El Paso County had a strategic plan. And, I found out that we had several - gathering dust on the shelves. These voluminous documents had been carefully created, in great detail, and while works of art, were rarely taken off the shelf for review. As a result, your county government recently started from scratch. I'm happy to report that we're working on a comprehensive strategic plan that will have very specific goals and reporting processes to reach the goals we set.
       Our core strategic planning team includes the county treasurer, assessor, district attorney, clerk and recorder, sheriff, Planning Department, Department of Transportation, Employment Services, Health Department, Social Services, Budget and Finance and the Board of County Commissioners. On Sept. 12, I reported on the progress of the plan. Our team formed five sections: Vision 2020 (destination for our county), Plan 2010 (map to our county's destination), execution (route for the next year), mission (responsibilities of our county) and beliefs (how the county should operate). We created an acrostic to signify the county's new brand, which is S.P.I.R.I.T.: Satisfy Customers, Productive, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovative and Teamwork. These words signify the core beliefs of your county government. The next step of our strategic plan will be to make additional changes with help from our internal staff and the public before it comes to the commissioners for final approval this year.
       The county's Plan for 2010 includes: financially sustainable, fiscally responsible county government; increased public understanding, trust and confidence in county government; improved county buildings, facilities, infrastructure and technology; safe and healthy community; and strong local economy and tax base. Our Vision 2020 will include: great place to live, natural beauty, community of neighborhoods, ease of mobility, active living, strong community partnerships, growing economy, vibrant downtown, leaders in government services and community spirit.
       It's become clear to me that citizen outreach is more important than ever and our strategic plan emphasizes that need. Even before we put the final touches on our strategic plan, the board's chairman, Commissioner Jim Bensberg, took the initiative to form the new Citizen Outreach Group (COG). This committee will facilitate communication between the commissioners and their constituents. If you are interested in serving on this committee, visit our website at and click on "volunteer opportunities," or call Fran St. Germain at 520-6436 for more information.
       In a county with over 2,200 square miles including cities, towns and unincorporated areas, this is just the beginning of our continuing process to provide a road map to the future with input from the citizens we serve. And we'll depend on our El Paso county communities and citizens to remind us that we're on the right track.

Clark, a Westside resident, represents District 3 on the Board of El Paso County Commissioners and serves as its vice chair. You can reach her at 520-6413 or