New Execs pick councilmember Jennifer Robertson’s brain on all things government affairs
The New Executives program recently hosted Bellevue City Councilmember Jennifer Robertson for its session on government affairs, where students had the opportunity to ask any and everything they wanted to know about civic service and building a legacy here in Bellevue.
See below for some of the highlights.
Q: You have served as a council member, planning commissioner, and deputy mayor. In terms of your day-to-day responsibilities, how do these roles compare?
A: “For the planning commission, there's not so much constituent outreach that you do as a council member or response, and there's also not all the regional work that I do as council. So, it was much more granular-level work, where we would really get into nuances and wordsmithing, language changes, and impacts of land use code, comp plan policies, etc. … So, we spent a lot more time listening to the public, listening to each other, going over the level of detail, and making recommendations to the council. I really love the work because I love that what I do has special emphasis on land use as a municipal lawyer.”
Q: Do you see more value in one type of work versus the other? What would you recommend to people trying to figure out where to spend their time most effectively?
“I think that people should spend their time doing things that feed their interests, and their passions, or what fits where they are in life right now. I started off doing a lot of my volunteer work regarding things that my kids were doing, such as volunteering, being on the PTA board, being a Girl Scout leader … And then I wanted to serve my own intellectual hunger. That's why I joined the Planning Commission.
But mind you, I've sat at Planning Commission meetings for other cities as a lawyer, and at council meetings as the lawyer so I personally really like doing city work because you're helping provide services for people and making the government better."
Q: Why are efforts to promote diversity important, and how are they also part of your job?
“The council and the city manager's office, we set the tone. So having a council that values things that our employees and public value, I think it's important and so that's part of our role. It can be expressed in ways of bringing our legislative agenda beyond the lobby.”
What is the New Executives program, anyways?
The Bellevue Chamber New Executives program is built for folks in the first 2-5 years of their career, and includes curated speakers and networking opportunities for this type of ambitious employee. Course tuition is $650 for members ($850 for nonmembers) and includes around 8 sessions, one of which included attendance to the Eastside Leadership Conference.
Session topics for this year’s New Execs cover Marketing, Building and Maintaining Relationships, Government Affairs, and more.