Events & People: Conversation with newest City Councilman Tom Robins
After 5 years of citizen discourse about how the City of Edmond is operating, I have decided to talk to each of the current Council members and Mayor to bring to light their individual goals and how that plays into their working as a collaborative body.
In my first conversation, I spoke with Tom Robins this week, who is new to City government, and asked him to explain to all of you what his why is and why he is taking the time to go door to door speaking to people in Downtown Edmond’s unique micro-neighborhoods, understanding that all Downtown Edmond neighborhood residents have different needs.
If you frequent any FB Edmond group or Nextdoor, you will find Tom talking consistently with residents about a variety of issues he has been working on and his transparency is clear when it comes to why he is talking about issues with his constituents, but moreso, why he votes the specific way he does.
Besides reading each conversation, please take the time to read each agenda at EdmondOK.gov, sit through some planning commission meetings, or if you can make it to a city council meeting to better understand what is happening in the City of Edmond utility limits this is great (meaning the areas that receive utility services from the City of Edmond) or you can watch each meeting from your home live at the above link, but be sure to listen, and get involved with solutions rather than showing up or emailing each councilor, and protesting.
EA: Hi Tom, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for our readers! About how long have you been a resident of Edmond?
Tom: Probably about 12 to 13 years. I am married and we are raising our 3 sons here, with all three attending Edmond Public Schools.
EA: What made you decide to run for City Council?
Tom: It is just an opportunity to serve neighbors. Having the opportunity to raise our family in Olde Towne in Downtown Edmond’s Ward 1, allows me to ask questions of our neighbors and others in different areas of the Ward about how they feel the City Council responds to their needs. It’s a privilege to get to do that.
EA: What do you find the response is when you reach out to the community in person?
Tom: I think most people are actually surprised when I show up and have a conversation in person. A lot of people reach out by email or snail mail, but when I show up to talk to them in person, they seem to appreciate the effort.
EA: What is the most common thing people have asked you?
Tom: Usually, it’s reaching out to check on some disinformation like whether a street is closed or not, and things like that. I’ve tried to work with the Mayor and City Offices and said we probably want to overcommunicate, so now we are doing weekly Downtown Edmond Project Updates, which I think is being received really well.
EA: What do you have to say to people about the overlay project in Downtown Edmond?
Tom: Honestly, Ward 1 has a little bit of everything. We have $500,000 to $1 million homes, it has affordable housing like fabricated mobile homes, small older homes, it has home rentals, it has section 8, college housing, and apartments, etc. Ward 1 in itself isn’t just homogenous as far as the type of housing it offers, it isn’t just a one take all approach. So, what I really enjoy in all my conversations, is that there are micro-neighborhoods in Ward 1, that have their own rhythm, and that is causing me to be more intentional about the conversations about the current development, I’ve been having with its residents. With regards to the Urban projects, I’ve asked the City Staff to simply slow down, and I’ve told them that I won’t personally vote for these projects, until we’ve had these conversations with residents. To call each micro area the same is to do it a disservice.
EA: What would you say to people, who are against multi-family housing, who believe that “affordable housing” means nothing more than government public project housing?
Tom: Well, first, it just doesn’t. To have attainable housing rather, means that we have different housing available for different seasons of life, for those who are just starting their lives whether college/youthful housing, new family housing/starter housing, 2nd and 3rd upgrade housing, downsizing options for empty nesters who want to remain in their neighborhoods, and for seniors and those who wish to age in place.
People who study, work, and are starting out in life should be able to attain housing here in Edmond, especially those who serve our community that work at hospitals, as medical providers, at schools as teachers or support staff, as firemen/women, and policemen/women. I think it does a lot for our community when people who work here can also be a part of the community after they get off work. I was visiting with the guys at the Fire station up on Covell, and I asked them if they could afford to live around this location and they all said “Nope.” And whether we have attainable housing is a decision made by the community itself, whether consciously or unconsciously.
EA: Thanks for your time Tom, it’s much appreciated!
Tom: You’re welcome, anytime.
*Editor’s note: If you’d like more information about the City Council, please visit the City’s website at EdmondOK.gov!