Madeira Democrats in a home meeting

Spotlight: Civics and Sangria with Brian Mueller

Brian Mueller, former city council member, sat down with fellow Dems to share
some of his experiences with civics, volunteering, and serving on Madeira City
Council. The June evening kicked off with questions for Brian, so we’ve
paraphrased his answers below.

Q: Who gets involved in civics?

Brian: “Folks with interest, resources, and those who are asked! Civics doesn’t
always have to be political – it’s just volunteering like you would for anything in
your community.”

Brian served on Madeira’s Parks & Recreation Board (Parks & Rec) before he
ran for city council. He was on Parks & Rec for over two years.

Q: What motivates the council/What are the hopes and fears of colleagues on

“I moved to Madeira because of the schools, and when I joined Parks & Rec,
we wanted people to say ‘I moved for the parks and the events,’ not just the
schools. Work on the board was augmenting what the council was doing.
Council members have short terms and the risk they won’t be re-elected. But a
board can think big and see long-term goals achieved.”

Q: How do we get to a common ground or be on the same page (if council is
moving in a different direction than we’d like)?

“The common ground is that committees do things the council can’t, and they
augment government in a positive and tangible way. They are there to give
elected officials confidence in initiatives and the comfort to support them.
“Often progress is two steps forward, one step back. Celebrate the victories.
Like Pride Picnic was a phenomenal success. Have fun with your friends while
you’re volunteering.”

Q: How civically engaged is our community?

“Very engaged. You have to apply and interview to be on Parks & Rec and can
be put on a waiting list. Same with the schools, there are many options to
participate. There are a lot of ways to augment the government that gives
elective officials comfort and confidence to support initiatives. Get out there and
find your niche.”

Q: Why are we so civically engaged?

“People have access to a lot of time and economic resources in Madeira. They
have the flexibility of time and money to volunteer and give back. And interest
has increased; it’s more active now than in 2015 when I began.”

Q: How can Madeira Dems increase civic engagement?
“Madeira Republicans keep a list of folks who would be good on a board, and
they ask them to go do it. They set goals.

“Plus, consistency. Make sure a Dem candidate is running every time to keep
the pressure on. Create buzz and marketing.

“Dems could have better messaging. Republicans have excellent messaging,
and there’s always an emotional hook – fear.

“Celebrate the small victories. The current city council is actually the most left
council ever, even though it’s Republican. They didn’t roll back the tax increase
or kill the downtown and park renovations.

“The work we are doing is moving the needle policy-wise. This council has
been moved to allocate more resources for the public programs, so to speak.

“We don’t have to hide as Dems anymore. Many of our neighbors are Dems,
too. You can increase your visibility.”

Q: Should we be concerned about conservative influence on the Madeira
School Board election?
“The school board is fed by the school planning commission volunteers. So if
you want to influence it, start there.”

Brian also shared insight about how different personality types can work as
volunteers. He’s an integrator-type personality. He enjoys:
Keeping the checklist and checking off tasks
Being in committee and discussing issues and solving them
Developing the plan and the checklist
Conversely, he shared that he does poorly at being personable with everyone
and listening to radical alternative opinions. He wishes he were a better people
leader but considers himself a good project leader.

Madeira Dems have voiced support for Brian’s hard work as both a people
leader and project leader. Brian served on Madeira City Council from 2017 to
2021 and volunteered on Parks and Rec from 2015 to 2021.

© Madeira Democrats