After city officials wrapped up a staff meeting and departed from the mayor’s office Monday morning, Bob Everson started prepping for the evening’s City Council meeting.
One year in to his job as Mitchell's mayor, Everson said he thinks he has adapted well to day-to-day life as the city's top elected official. Monday, July 2 marked his first full year in office.
“It’s been a fast year,” Everson said in an interview with The Daily Republic. “There is a steep learning curve, but I think it’s going well so far.”
Everson's latest move — an effort to consolidate a handful of city committees — is top of mind for city residents now, but the city's 35th mayor said it's been a priority since Day One a year ago.
“I’ve done some things to downsize our city government and help streamline the process, which has been a priority of mine,” Everson said.
Everson is especially proud of achieving what he believes is a major step toward improving Lake Mitchell. The $4.1 million land purchase of the near lake property near Firesteel Creek was a memorable day for Everson and some members of the Mitchell City Council. He said it's an opportunity he felt would greatly benefit Lake Mitchell, aimed at reducing the phosphorus and sediment flowing into the lake.
“We’ve been able to accomplish some things we’ve been talking about for a long time, namely starting to work on improving the Lake Mitchell watershed,” Everson said of the land purchase agreement, which was unanimously approved by the council in January. “I’m anxious for the wetland, and I'm confident we’re going to start seeing some improvements to the lake.”
Council President Kevin McCardle, who supported the land purchase, said it’s one of many actions the mayor has taken for the betterment of the community. McCardle said he’s been impressed with how Everson has handled unique challenges that have faced the mayor.
“It’s been great working alongside Bob, because he truly cares about the community and people of Mitchell,” McCardle said. “He trusts us council members and works to get things done. I believe he is determined to lead the city in the right direction.”
Everson said the land purchase also paved the way for several agriculture producers with land along Firesteel Creek to agree on land easements geared toward reducing cattle grazing, providing more benefits to the water quality.
“That action we took on the land agreement has actually helped produce a domino effect for agriculture producers along Firesteel Creek, and that's been a blessing,” Everson said. “It’s not an instant fix, and it will take some time to see the benefits. It’s a big step for the lake.”
Everson previously served on the Mitchell Board of Education, the city's Parks and Recreation board and the Mitchell Planning Commission, and brought that wealth to the mayor's office, he said. He said being a Mitchell resident has helped him understand some of the challenges facing the city, chief among them is seeking solutions to address Mitchell’s aging Main Street infrastructure.
“Improving our Main Street is extremely vital and challenging, because we want to see businesses thrive and buildings looking good. But if a property owner isn’t maintaining the building, we don’t want to use our taxpayers dollars to take care of those problems,” said Everson, referencing the ongoing battle to address the corroding Third Avenue and Main Street building.
From balancing a city budget to overseeing numerous departments within the city, Everson credits city department heads for helping him get acquainted with those aspects of his role.
“That’s one of the toughest parts of adjusting to this role, because I come from the private industry that allows you to make decisions and act on them right away,” Everson said. “There is a lot of red tape to the timely process of city government. You can’t just make a decision you see fit, rather you have to communicate whatever it is you’re trying to do with the public and city leaders to make sure the support is there.”
While the Mitchell native has two more years left on his first term as mayor, Everson said he hasn’t thought about exploring reelection as of yet, rather he’s focused on the immediate future for bettering the city.
“If it were today, I would say, ‘Yes.’ I like this role, and I like where things are going for Mitchell,” Everson said. “There are a lot of challenges. But if you’re not up for a challenge, being the mayor isn’t the role for you.”