Marlene McMichael has a passion for government, saying that she believes in the process of government and that its purpose is to serve the people. She has brought her skills and personal strengths to bear, working with and among leadership entities, for the better part of three decades. She has chosen to share her experience and vision for Georgetown by entering the mayor’s race.
McMichael moved to Georgetown in 2001 and quickly realized the city is unique in that it has resources that few other towns of its type have. The big challenge, she believes, is to think outside the box and bring people together to create solutions that will preserve those unique qualities.
“One of the obvious issues for this election and for Georgetown,” McMichael says, “is growth and how we deal with it. We have to look at the key challenges that come with fast growth and make sure we are prepared for it.” Recognizing Georgetown’s mission statement to be a City of Excellence means something different to everyone, she believes we must decide to base decisions on what is best for Georgetown.
McMichael feels her many years of experience will be an asset. She spent her career as senior staff for lawmakers at the Texas Capitol and as a lobbyist or government relations specialist solving problems and bringing people together. Acknowledging that the term “lobbyist” often generates a negative reaction, she reminds people that she was simply an advocate for businesses and cities to help them navigate the bureaucratic processes at the state and federal levels. She worked with bipartisan caucuses, and helped locate resources within accepted government practices to address problems facing entire communities. Currently, she is an Associate Vice Chancellor for Texas State Technical College, working as a liaison between the school’s 11 campuses and state and federal governmental entities.
To illustrate her point, she describes a project she managed in Marlin, Texas, an economically disadvantaged community east of Waco and Temple. Marlin was home to a large VA hospital that employed over 200 people and was a central point in the business community. The VA closed the facility, which produced multiple negative effects. McMichael worked with the mayor, judges and other elected officials to bring in hospital groups and private resources in an effort to bring the building back into the mainstream economy of the town. In the end, because of the size of the facility, it was determined that another government use was the best fit. Working with Congress and the Texas Legislature, she helped get the facility transferred to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for a state medical facility. “State budget constraints have delayed opening the facility, but the biggest hurdle is done. The property now belongs to Texas.”
She also points to her experience in economic development. Locally, she worked with the Rivery property developers as a liaison familiar with Georgetown. She advised developers and provided public relations input to ensure, as the years went by, that the vision and support for the project was maintained.
Her leadership philosophy is a simple one, “every person’s perspective has value. That doesn’t mean I am always going to agree with everyone, but I believe everyone can be a piece of the solution.” She also believes that collaboration must be an essential part of the culture of a community, because good government is a blending of ideas.
“The bottom line, I understand the process from having worked inside the government, and I understand the process from having worked on the outside for my clients. The dual perspective is a distinct advantage when trying to bring people together.” McMichael’s objective is to be sure that the Georgetown community is a safe, welcoming city where visitors, citizens and businesses are served and valued. While admitting, “government may not be fast; often getting things done is like turning a battleship… but it IS supposed to work.” McMichael wants citizens to know that City officials are there to serve them in practical ways and build a high quality of life for them; that Georgetown is a place where both families and businesses can grow and prosper.
McMichael says that her over-arching mission is to “assure the citizens of Georgetown that our City will be able to accommodate the coming growth and change while still maintaining Georgetown’s unique personality. With that growth, our connections to State and Federal entities will become more important. My experience in the Capitol, and having built and nurtured those relationships over the past 30 years, puts me in a good position to bring Georgetown into that future.”