12 Aug Welcome to Kindville
Anaheim’s mayor thinks city’s success lies in establishing key core values.
In November 2010, when Tom Tait was elected mayor of Anaheim, his campaign focused on bringing “kindness and freedom” to one of California’s largest cities.
After 10 years on Anaheim City Council, Tait felt he knew what the city needed.
Tait brought to the mayor’s office a strong career in business and a history of public service. He is chief executive of Tait & Associates Inc., an engineering and environmental services firm with offices throughout the Western U.S.
He received a B.S. from University of Wyoming and an MBA and JD from Vanderbilt University.
I asked Mayor Tait to reflect on his experience in leadership of one of Orange County’s most iconic cities and his vision for its future.
Q: Why did you run for mayor?
A: During my time on the City Council, I felt like much of the work we did dealt with the symptoms that ailed our city. And after 10 years, the problems were basically the same: crime, gangs, graffiti, senior neglect, etc. The city government worked hard on these issues but we never reached the root cause. And the symptoms didn’t go away. I felt we needed to take more of a holistic approach and address the underlying culture of the city.
Similar to running a business, a CEO can lead the culture of a company by establishing the core values. Core values set the culture. And core values of kindness and freedom will lead to stronger families, more connected neighborhoods, better schools and a strong, healthy resilient city.
That’s why I ran.
Q: What is your vision for Anaheim?
A: I want Anaheim to be a city with a strong vibrant social infrastructure, where the city is connected, where the community cares for and is looking out for one another and where we don’t simply rely on the city government to solve problems but rather first look to ourselves to solve them. Under the core value of kindness, we are implementing a policy called “Hi Neighbor.” It’s an initiative that calls on everybody in Anaheim to get out and connect with their neighbors. This can unify disjointed factions and reinforce safety. By being connected, we will be safer from crime, better prepared to deal with disasters and generally…a more resilient city.
Q: What gives you the most hope for the future?
A: After the unrest last summer, I have witnessed many people who want to help neighborhoods in need. There is recognition that the gang issue is a community problem, and police or government cannot solve it alone. I see a renewed spirit of “We’re all in this together.”
Q: What lessons does Anaheim hold for the rest of Orange County?
A: Anaheim is part of the urban core of O.C. and…all Orange Countians have a responsibility for the people in areas where hope is lacking. The unrest this past summer should be a wake-up call to all in the county. If we can work together we can solve our problems.
To learn more about the needs of our community and how you can help, visit ConnectOC.org.
Shelley Hoss is president of the Orange County Community Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.