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Member Spotlight

This Member Spotlight blog highlights MMASC members to show the variety of professionals that make up the organization. In just 10 quick questions, you can get to know your fellow MMASC colleagues. Are you interested in filling out a Member Spotlight form? Click here to fill one out.

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Aug 06

Member Spotlight with Barry Waite - 7/30/2012

Posted on August 6, 2012 at 3:34 PM by Liz Pharis

Member Interview with 25-year MMASC Member Barry Waite, Business & Employment Development Manager at the City of Carson

 Barry Waite

1.  How did you first hear about MMASC?

Good question. I don’t recall, but I’m sure it was not on the Internet! Perhaps it was a cave drawing.

2.  What made you join?

I wanted to learn what was going on elsewhere and grow in the profession.

3.  What keeps you renewing your membership?

At this point in my career, it is important to help the next group coming up. We need to share what we’ve learned so others can learn what we did that worked – and what didn’t. Plus, there are some great events I really enjoy. I haven’t been to an annual conference in a few years, but I keep threatening to. They are always very well done and content rich. It’s very important to share with people the many great career paths available. Municipal management is far more than the position of city manager, though some of those other paths are in fact great for becoming a city manager. So many interesting things to do! In economic development, I’m on my sixth career here in my 25 years in Carson. We’ll see what’s next.

4.  What’s your favorite part of being a MMASC member?

MMASC is full of nice people who want to help each other. There have been a few very ambitious jerks battling to be next week’s city managers in the group, but those are a small minority. I am still friends with some people I met at MMASC events in the 1980’s. Good people I admire and respect.

5.  What book is on your nightstand?

I’ve got a stack usually. Right now, there is “It’s my party too” on top of Clinton’s “Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.” I prefer fiction but burn through it so fast it doesn’t stay unread very long. I obsess on a good book and skip little things like sleep.

6.  If you were to run for elected office, which position would seek?

Been there, done that. I did a term on the Lomita city council. My wife asked me not to run again, which was a fair request. It was quite a learning experience and very humbling. I would not generally recommend that path to many people. If anyone is thinking about it, I’m happy to talk with them. It’s definitely a useful vantage point. Next, I’m going to run for king. And not the kind with a parliament but a good old-fashioned dictator.

7.  What is your best piece of career advice?

From my mentor, Bob Biller at USC, the best advice is to recognize no one knows what they are doing. Just dig in and do it anyway. Here’s a link to his whole list:

8.  What’s your favorite thing to do to unwind?

I can waste way too much time on computer games, but music is high on my list. I’m performing in the Music Man right now. We perform at nursing homes and other places where people don’t have the strength to throw anything at us. I also serve on a number of boards and commissions. Then again, those are certainly no help in unwinding.

9.  What do you think is the biggest issue facing local governments?

The changing public attitude is a terrible threat. Talk radio and other vermin with a platform throw out Vernon and Bell as the norm and make us look like crooks and idiots. People need to trust their government, and it is in fact always their government. We need to always maintain the highest standards to deserve that trust. Other than that, I am at a loss what to do. Passively waiting for that trust to come back is certainly not going to work. The loss of redevelopment is another big blow to the communities most needing it. That is not a minor adjustment but is an ongoing loss to deal with.

10.  What would you recommend to a new MMASC Member to make the most of their membership?

Participate. Go to meetings. Listen to the people at your table at a lunch. Offer up an event in your community. Every town has some cool venue, be it a small museum, sports facility, new school, art gallery, sewage treatment plant (but not for lunch), or a new kennel. Show your pride in your town by sharing. Most people in the world would think they’d died and gone to heaven to live in a place like California. You get to live there and shape its future. How cool is that?