It is very important for elected officials to learn the inner workings of their city or other government entities as quickly as possible in order to ensurethey are making the most educated decisions when setting policy. Studying these and other issues is also important to ensure that their decisions are made without relying solely on the direction and guidance of their staff.

Two years ago, the City Manager of Rancho Santa Margarita had the foresight to begin creating a City Council Member Orientation Manual for the new members of the council, which included everything from city history to department structure, responsibilities, and policies. Additionally, our City Manager encourages recurring briefings of each council member the day prior to all council meetings in order to field any questions they may have on the agenda.

At-large races, where multiple seats are won, have a different dynamic thanraces with districts where there is only one winner. With at-large races comes another transition issue to consider, and that is the fact that you will suddenly find yourself having to work together with those who ran against you. As a military officer, I have learned to work with other officers of diverse backgrounds whose opinions were not always in agreement with mine. But we always place the mission first. This is just as applicable to serving on an elected body as it is in the military. In this case, the mission is to take care of the needs of the residents of the city and never let any personal differences hinder that objective.

There is one thing for certain that is very different than in the military. In politics it takes a lot more convincing to get anything done. The government is a very slow moving machine. Overall, the transition onto the council has been a very smooth one. I thank my staff for making this transition so easy, and look forward to the next four years of serving our city.

Jesse Petrilla is a Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilman.