Kristy Yager, public information officer for Oklahoma City, said she loves her job because it offers new and often unexpected challenges.
“Every day is a different day for me,” she said. “I love it. I have the best job in the world.”
Yager spoke to a class of News Writing students on campus earlier this month.
She mentioned Oklahoma City’s Project 180 renovation to upgrade downtown streetscapes.
“We are tearing up every street, sidewalk, light pole, everything to beautify our downtown,” she said. “The hope is that once the project is completed, our downtown will resemble those of Chicago and New York City.”
She said one of her staff members is assigned to communicate with downtown businesses about when construction will be happening on their block or in front of their building. That allows the business owners to plan ahead.
She has been working for the city of Oklahoma City for14 years now and has 17 employees that answer to her. Some work in the print shop and mail room. Others maintain the city’s public access television channel. One person has the job of ensuring better communication within the office.
Yager said she works for City Manager Jim Couch, who reports to Mayor Mick Cornett and the City Council.
Yager stressed during her speech that communication is key. She is the liaison between citizens and their city government. When citizens have a problem or complaint, it comes to her office and her staff tracks the response until the case has been closed.
“I can’t possibly know everything about everything. In my job, it’s about knowing who knows what and how to reach them.”
She also works with the news media to help television, radio and newspaper reporters get the information they need for stories.
Yager earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from East Central State University in Ada in 1989.
She said good communication requires that she tell the truth.
“I always tell media of bad news before anyone else does,” she said. “There is an explanation to everything. If we don’t have a process or if we made a mistake, we’ll come out with it.”
Yager said recent City Council elections have added a new voice to city government.
Dr. Ed Shadid, 42, is the newest and youngest member of Oklahoma City’s City Council.
He has voiced his belief that City Council has chosen the wrong location for the city’s new convention center, to be funded by MAPS 3.
Shadid also has argued that the recently approved MAPS 3 timeline puts too much emphasis on the convention center and not enough priority on sidewalks, bike trails and the central park. The latter amenities would make Oklahoma City a more pedestrian-friendly urban area that could encourage residents to get outside and exercise more.
Yager said Shadid was elected to bring a different perspective to city government. At the same time, he has to work with other council members to accomplish his goals.
“To get anything done in Oklahoma City, you have to have five votes,” she said, referring to the majority needed to pass an action item through City Council.
Yager encouraged citizens to be aware of what’s happening in the city, pointing out that every City Council meeting is televised and archived on the city website at okc.gov. Also many other meetings of city boards and committees can be found at the same website.
City Council agendas for upcoming Tuesday meetings are posted at 4 p.m. on Friday.