Milleson: Council should put citizens’ interests first

Robert Smith
Rodger Milleson

Rodger Milleson offers himself as a voice of reason — he may be a little blunt sometimes, but he explains he’s trying to get people around him to think.

“I’m not there to represent city hall,” says Pawhuska’s incumbent at-large city councilor, who is seeking re-election. He will be on the ballot June 30 in a contested race that also features Steve Tolson. Milleson and Tolson are businessmen and native Pawhuskans. “I’m there to represent the citizens and to give city hall other alternatives when they come up with a plan.”

All Pawhuska registered voters will be eligible to participate in the June 30 vote. It was originally scheduled to be held in April, but concerns about the spread of COVID-19 caused a delay.

Milleson, who has served three years on the council, said he has observed that city government has a tendency to find a solution to a problem that suits it, and then pursue that solution without necessarily asking enough questions to be able to tell if there are better options.

“They’ll talk to one contractor or one engineer, but not dwell on the project as if they were doing it themselves,” Milleson said. “I always try to look at more than one alternative.”

One of the highlights of Milleson’s term in office was when he, fellow councilor John Brazee, and a team of other volunteers worked to put a generator engine at the city light plant back in operating shape. City officials had been looking seriously at potentially paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a new engine to serve as a dark-start generator at the light plant. Thanks to Milleson, Brazee and their associates, that wasn’t necessary.

Milleson also offered a critique of the way that Pawhuska city government solves problems.

“We’re unorganized up here,” Milleson said, arguing that city government tends to identify a problem, seek solutions, and then fail to follow through on the selection of a solution until there’s a dramatic need for an immediate resolution of the issue.

He described his approach to problems as one of looking for the best possible alternatives and trying to stimulate discussion.

“I try to represent the people that are normally not thought of,” Milleson said, emphasizing that he doesn’t dismiss, out of hand, opinions that run counter to his own. He maintains an “open door” and listens to citizen concerns, he said.

Milleson said he remains optimistic the city’s problems can be solved, and he defends Pawhuska against persons he referred to as “Pawhuska haters.” City government has endured its personnel woes in the past couple of years, going through multiple city managers and police chiefs in the period since the fall of 2017.

“I’ve never seen a problem that isn’t solvable, if people are willing to listen,” Milleson said. “I like to discuss things.”

Milleson’s business is Milleson Oilfield Services.