It’s been a few short months since Lori McGraw took the helm as the City Manager for the City of Ione. To say it’s been a whirlwind would be an understatement as staff changes, upgrades, projects, developer agreements, numerous day to day activities, as well as making sure the City Council Board Members make informed decisions, would seem to be an impossible task. One would think that the pressure and myriad of activities would make McGraw a tired, worn out and cranky. But, they’d be wrong.
“First thing you have to know is that everyone from the City Council, to city staff, which I direct and work with, is extremely dedicated and devoted to the City of Ione,” said McGraw. “I guess I’m not worn out, because I see the passion and dedication of all the staff at Ione City Hall every day.”
In her short tenure as City Manager a great deal has been accomplished including: preparing RFP for Waste Water Operators, preparing RFP for Engineering Services, responding to PRA’s, hiring of two full time staff members, compiling installation of a drop box at Ione City Hall, meetings with the Motherlode Youth Soccer League to go over upgrades to the fields at Howard Park, meeting with the Arena Contractor regarding upgrades that are needed, meeting with the Picnic Association to discuss upgrades that are needed, working on grants with Train Depot volunteers, reviewing developer agreements, participating in the virtual California League of Cites (City Managers Conference), reviewing all city contracts to create and reevaluate RFP’s and schedules. The list is long and impressive.
“There’s a lot going on,” McGraw said. “Lots of new faces and a drive by everyone to work together to review what has been done, where we can improve and how we can accomplish items that have struggled in the past.”
McGraw will be the last to take the credit for the list.
“I answer to the City Council and the citizens of Ione,” said McGraw. “It’s been exciting, and yes, very frustrating at times, but we all have the same goal, making Ione great again, the best town and the best home, we can.”
While past administrations have been under public scrutiny for lack of transparency, and poor management decisions that were less than public in the view of some, McGraw pulls no punches.
“Yes, as a business the City of Ione made many mistakes in the past,” said McGraw. “But we can either cease doing the work that needs to be presently done, or we can continue to try and fix those errors and oversights while focusing primarily on the future, in order to bring the results our citizens want and deserve. Again, it’s a mindset, staff finally feels appreciated and they are unified, working and volunteering together as a team for the community in order to protect and build on our beautiful town.”
On questions regarding disagreements, egos, or credit, McGraw won’t budge.
“Yes, our Mayor Stacy Rhoades is certainly the one that pushes more out to the public and promotes all that is going on,” she said. “So, you hear and see a lot of his projects that are going on. He’s not afraid of working tirelessly, promoting and meeting with the public to gather volunteers to help with all that is taking place in town. It’s cooperation and helping in any way possible, from the top, down to the bottom, all working together.”
With the rosy outlook, one would wonder if there are any hard issues or disagreements within the political differences and personalities that are working together.
“Oh, yes,” laughed McGraw. “We certainly have differences of opinion, differences in priorities and different approaches to solving the various tasks we face each day. However, the dedication and desire to serve and have the citizens be proud of Ione. It’s the commonality and gut check that each individual looks at. I truly believe there is nothing we can’t conquer. Some of it will take time, but with the amazing dedicated staff in the City of Ione, failure is not an option and we won’t ever give up.
“We’re working hard every day for the citizens. If you want my State of the City report, as you suggested, I’d say I am getting to know Council members on a different level, it is interesting to see the different levels which each council member view their civic duty. The one thing I have found is we all share a love of Ione. Once we focus on that, together, I don’t think there is anything we can’t accomplish.”