Historic Preservation

Government Officials and Preservation Action

by Michael R. Allen

Preservationists are pretty used to lobbying government officials. Yet sometimes those officials are the ones doing the lobbying. That’s what attendees saw at the October 16 membership meeting of Preservation Action, held during the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s conference in Nashville.

One of the first speakers was Brian Goeken, who is Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Planning and Development for Chicago. Then there was a rousing talk by Joel Burns, a City Council member in Forth Worth who spoke about how vital smart federal historic preservation laws are to local redevelopment efforts.

Rounding out the meeting were short presentations by Anna Glover, Preservation Planner for San Antonio, and Shannon Wasielewski, the Historic Preservation Officer for that city. Glover is helping boost Preservation Action’s efforts to sign up coordinators in each state who will ensure that federal elected officials hear from their constituents on preservation policy. Glover also serves on the board of directors of Preservation Texas, that state’s non-profit statewide advocacy organization. Wasielewski serves as Preservation Action’s Vice Chair for Finance and Administration.

While Preservation Action limits its lobbying to federal policy, preventing these officials from conflicts with their local city governments, their involvement is still laudable. City Council members should have a lot to say about federal policies that affect their own policy-making, and appointed officials should share their knowledge of best policy practices — and push for changes when needed.