Let me first profess my love for the people of Myanmar! Everyone I have met is kind, welcoming, and genuinely friendly!
Meeting with local officials in Myanmar has been both a pleasure and an honor. The nation is a very young democracy. As we know, the business of building consensus and moving forward is often a trying task. My conversations with my new friends in Myanmar are no different than those back home. People want economic development opportunities, infrastructure in good repair, and they share a desire to build a community their children will stay in.
I am from a rural background. I have really enjoyed spending time in some of the more rural areas here. While I can honestly say everyone is friendly, the villages win the prize for being the friendliest!
The role of the city manager equivalent here (administrator) is much more challenging. While I need some time to better understand the nuances of local government in Myanmar, I can easily see that the administrator has much more balancing to do with all levels of government as it relates to the city. Some services have a more centralized function at the national level (police services and general administration, for example) while others like public works are governed in part by local committees of party officials who help to make sure the needs of citizens are addressed.
I am so honored to be here and thankful to support the “I” in ICMA!