This was a really hectic week for me. I spent four nights and five days (Monday ~ Friday) operating an onsite Mayor’s office. I took care of cases awaiting my approval, gave lectures, and attended informal meetings with local residents. At the onsite Mayor’s office operated in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Gangdong-gu, and Seodaemun-gu, I discussed pending matters with local residents and came up with solutions, letting them know how we at Seoul Metropolitan Government were working to solve their problems. I was tired after a hectic day but felt a sense of accomplishment.
I thought I could solve the problems experienced by local residents by talking to them in person. That was why I started operating the onsite Mayor’s office. So far, I have run the program in 8 districts (i.e., Eunpyeong, Gangseo, Yangcheon, Guro, Geumcheon, Yeongdeungpo, Gangdong, and Seodaemun) out of the 25. I also ran similar programs concerning people burdened with debts and taxi drivers.
Some local residents sat with a long face at their first face-to-face session, but I expressed my willingness to listen to their problems and discuss a way to solve their problem involving Seoul Metropolitan Government. They had no reason to remain sullen when the person across the table was ready to listen to what they had to say, and I, the mayor elected by the people, was that person.
I had a similar experience at the onsite Mayor’s office held this time. I wish I had the Midas touch so that I could solve the problems raised by local residents on the spot. You know, we have to run municipal affairs within the budget, and there are operational procedures to follow. At marathon meetings, we sometimes raised our voice to persuade the other party. I found that we could reach an agreement if we approached a problem reasonably and tried to understand the other party’s position. In such moments, I feel once again the importance of talking to the people face to face.
I also made ten guidelines for running the onsite Mayor’s office, including keeping promises made to the people and checking the further development of a matter once it is settled. Such guidelines are designed to prevent the onsite Mayor’s office from becoming a mere one-off thing.
As a result of talking to local residents, the following items were added to my list of problems to be settled:
– Yeongdeungpo-gu: ▲ constructing a multi-purpose cultural facility in Mullae-dong 3-ga, ▲ turning an area of blacksmithing workshops in Mullae-dong into an art village, ▲ replacing the current Nambu Roads & Bridges Maintenance Office with a multi-purpose facility
– Gangdong-gu: ▲ extension of Subway Line 9, ▲ formation of engineering complex, ▲ development of Gangil Bogeumjari area
– Seodaemun-gu: ▲ preventing chronic flooding in the area near Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon, ▲ making it obligatory for buildings in Sinchon to have their own parking lots, ▲ developing areas close to Hongje Station, and ▲ relocating residents in Geumhwa Apartment in connection with the housing refurbishment in Bukahyeon 3-dong
Now, I will have to make preparations for the onsite Mayor’s office to be operated at traditional markets a few weeks later. I feel good since the onsite Mayor’s office works efficiently as a channel for listening to what people have to say and trying to find a solution to their problems. I will continue to make similar efforts to make Seoul a better place to live in.