By Comal County Commissioner Jen Crownover, Newly Elected Second Vice President, South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association
Communication…it’s the hallmark of my job as Commissioner, or at least that’s how I see it. Give me an issue, any issue, and I can tell you how it can be improved with good communication.
I might sound like a broken record, but it reminds me of the scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” where Mr. Portokalos accepts the challenge to connect any and every word in the English language to Greek origins. (https://youtu.be/jXt0VCPKfQ4 )
In my original bid for office, this was a major part of my platform, and since taking office, it’s a major part of my delivery.
Before taking office, this was a major area where our county, admittedly, did not excel. It was a huge opportunity for improvement. Since taking office, together we have made several changes, including the addition of a public information officer, frequent press releases, a newsletter, and social media!
These changes are great, but it does not substitute for my own need to connect with the constituents of my precinct (and beyond) on a personal level in order to do my job well. Whether they agree or disagree on an issue, if they are educated and informed about it, they are usually less hostile towards it. Taking the time to reach out seems to be one of the keys to a successful dialogue, and in today’s world, bombarded by a landscape of ever-changing technology, there are many simple ways to do it thoughtfully and responsibly.
For any member of Commissioners Court throughout the state, a typical day consists of a barrage of emails and phone calls. Responsiveness is something that our constituents expect. What other ways do you interact?
Texas is a rapidly growing state, and in Comal County, we have earned the “honor” of being the second-fastest growing county in the nation. The crux of adapting to this is…communication.
I hear from quite a few of my colleagues about how social media is more of a Pandora’s box than a tool for success. I hear about how it’s a hassle that’s not needed, or that they’d rather just stay out of the fray.
With all due respect, I disagree. It’s a tool to reach out, to educate, to build your community in a positive way, and yes, a way to hear the pulse of your community: the things that are concerns, the things that upset them, and the things they hold most dear.
When you see a concern posted online, even if not directed at you for immediate attention, isn’t that a great way to get ahead of the curve?
The primary online platforms I utilize are my web page on the county website, which also streams my Facebook posts for anyone who is not on Facebook – (http://www.co.comal.tx.us/Comal_County_Precinct_4.htm), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ComalCountyPct4/), and a Nextdoor agency page (https://nextdoor.com/city/feed/? ). In addition to these, I also publish a newsletter distributed via email as well as hard copies (funded by citizen donations, not taxpayer dollars), and I hold regular office hours in different areas of my precinct.
Full disclosure: Before my life in the fishbowl, as the Commissioner for Precinct 4 of Comal County, I had my own marketing and PR business. I worked through marketing plans for many different businesses, advertising campaigns, and public relations strategies. While there is always room for improvement (ask my kids…ha), this “communication thing” does come somewhat naturally to me.
Outside of my job as Commissioner, I’m proudly married to an amazing husband, and I am the mother of two awesome sons. One of my sons is headed off to college, and the other will be a junior in high school. We are a work hard, play hard family, and we always have a crazy project going on, or are off on some kind of unconventional adventure. “Crownovering,” as we call it, is somewhat unconventional, so it fits us well. I’m a proud native Texan, born in South Texas and raised on a family farm between Beeville and Goliad (ever heard of Berclair?).
I was recently elected by my peers as the second vice president of the South Texas Judges and Commissioners Association, and I am looking forward to serving and doing whatever I can to raise the bar for my fellow county servant leaders. Thank you for this opportunity, and we’ll see y’all soon!