Listening is a Loaded Word

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I’m Mark Kuestner (KEST-ner) and I’m running for Manzanita City Council. My wife and I are “doers.” We volunteer in our community to get stuff done. We often quote a line from a favorite movie, “Talkin’ ain’t doin’!” However, I firmly believe that listening is “doing.” How can you make a valid decision until you’ve listened to everyone? Until we actually “hear” someone’s ideas, we can’t know where they are coming from. As I meet voters and hear their concerns, I find I am grateful for the opportunity to broaden my viewpoint by having these conversations.

However, taking time to listen to others and to hear where they’re coming from does not mean we will agree. “Being heard” should not be confused with “I agree with you”. We are all individuals so the odds are good that even after we’ve heard each other out, we may arrive at separate solutions to our problems. In this community of spirited individuals we need to be able to move ahead with actions and policies needed to run Manzanita, knowing some of us may be disappointed by particular details.

“Transparency” in our local government means we can observe directly the actions of our elected officials through public meetings, reports and individual conversations. My personal experience has been that Manzanita city officials are consistently open and transparent. They have always taken the time to speak with me, listen to my concerns and answer questions. They have not always pursued solutions I wanted them to, but I felt heard.

All City Council meetings are, by Oregon law, public meetings. Since her arrival, City Manager Leila Aman has reinforced and enhanced the avenues available to connect citizens with city officials. Zoom meetings and workshops, in-person working sessions, and online forums have all been created. These opportunities help us stay informed. Let’s take advantage of them!

My parents encouraged me to speak candidly and listen respectfully. Early in my social media education, I learned that speaking candidly can quickly devolve into unpleasant interchanges. I resolved to try to respond with facts, not feelings. Sometimes my passion for truth and justice shakes that resolve, but we’re all a work in progress and I strive to heed the better angels of my nature to grow each day.

We may not always agree, but I promise that I will listen and let you know when – and why – I have a different opinion.

I ask for your vote on November 8. If I haven’t met you yet, I hope to do so over the next several weeks. Learn more about me at