By Jeremiah Dobruck
3:28 PM PST, February 6, 2013
Residents who want the ear of a school board trustee and a little exercise at the same time will get their chance starting Friday.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District board member Katrina Foley will host the first of her weekly walks with constituents.
Foley is inviting anyone who wants to discuss the city, community, schools or even legal issues to join her at 8 a.m. near the playground at TeWinkle Park for a walk-and-talk.
"I really wanted to get going on it because, one, I need a walk," said Foley, a lawyer, "But, two, it's a nice way to gather input from the community about issues of concern or things they think are working."
Foley began the practice while she was on Costa Mesa's City Council, but she has not restarted the meetings during her tenure on the school board until now.
Foley resigned from the council in 2010 to take the school board seat she'd won.
She calls the walks an important way to broaden the base of input.
"It is super important because I think sometimes if we're in the boardroom … it's that ivory tower syndrome," she said. "You start to think that the small group of people that you talk to every day are representative of what people throughout the community believe. Sometimes that's true, and sometimes that's not."
The walks are intended to break away from a formal setting with a prescribed discussion topic or strict agenda.
Foley developed a small group of walk regulars while on the council and hopes the rain that's expected won't deter too many people Friday.
"What I gained from it is I took on more of a role as a listener and could follow up and give feedback afterward," she said.
Foley plans on rotating the location of the walks throughout the school district that covers Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.
Locations will be available each week at http://www.katrinafoley.com.
"It's just an opportunity for people to share and get some exercise at the same time," she said.