Five Questions with Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield
1. What are the first things you do each morning when you begin your day at the office?
There are hardly two days that are alike, but I usually start off by checking my e-mail to catch up on messages left over from the prior day. I then review my scope of appointments and tasks for the day, and try to avoid any new landmines while the day is still dawning.
2. Talk a little bit about your management style. Is there someone who served as a great role model for you?
My management style is to give everyone the opportunity to do the right thing, letting team leaders manage their departments as they see best.
I have received great support and information from Chairman Ted Rumley of Dade County, Sole Commissioner Jason Winters or Chattooga County and County Manager Carl Henson of Catoosa County. They have all made themselves available to me to answer questions and help in any way that they can.
3. What are the things that excite you most about your new role?
I’m most excited about being able to make a positive difference in my community. I now have the ability to be involved in the positive growth and development of Walker County. I am also pleased to be able to bring better communication and government transparency to the citizens.
4. You are the first commissioner in Walker County who has utilized various forms of social media to communicate with citizens. Is there a social media platform that works better than the others for you? And, how do you reach out to those who don’t have access to social media?
We can’t expect area media to be the only source sharing our message. We need to be proactive and provide a direct form of communication with our citizens. We have found facebook to be a very effective way to spread the word about what’s happening in Walker County. It may not make the 6:00 p.m. news, but thousands of residents view and engage with posts about codes enforcement, litter pick-up, animal shelter activities and other government functions.
I understand that not everyone is on Facebook. That’s why we utilize a number of other methods of communication. Along with visiting area community groups, my staff and I make appearances on various TV and radio programs. I also have a weekly television show on UCTV, where I share information and field questions at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.
In addition, we moved the Commissioner meetings to 6:30 p.m. to encourage greater public involvement. We send out a monthly newsletter to residents and business owners who subscribe and hold “Lunch Conversation with the Commissioner” events at locally owned restaurants in Walker County too.
5. If you could fast-forward to this time next year, what are some of the goals you hope to have accomplished?
By this time next year, I’m looking forward to operating in a balanced budget. I also anticipate we will have reduced the county’s debt. I’d like to provide better benefits for our employees and put a better system in place that will bring more organization and checks and balances in county government, as well.
Any thing else you’d like to add?
It has been an honor to serve in this role as the last Sole Commissioner of Walker County and I’m grateful for the support and prayers I have received from so many across our community.