Linda Slocum, Outgoing City Council President

City Council President Linda Slocum has served Oberlin’s community as a member of City Council since 2016. Slocum chose not to run for reelection this fall. After working for 17 years as the Gifts Librarian and the Managing Editor of Oberlin College Press, Slocum retired from the College in 2012. A small reception will be held on Dec. 20 to celebrate Slocum and fellow outgoing Councilmember Mary Price.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell me a little bit about what you did before you joined City Council?

I worked at Oberlin College, actually. I was the Gifts Librarian in the Mary Church Terrell Main library, and I was also Managing Editor of the Oberlin College Press. Those were two part-time jobs that I put together for a full-time job. The reason I thought I might run for Council was because I’ve been a member of the League of Women Voters for a long time — since the 1970s — and I just realized there was some difficulty on Oberlin Council at the time. It was very split over what to do with the renewable energy credits that the City had accumulated, and I just thought that my experience in the League, my ways of looking at issues from all sides, and my approach to working with people might be helpful on Council.

What accomplishments are you the most proud of?

One of the things I’m most proud of is that from the beginning, I’ve encouraged cooperation among Oberlin City Schools and Oberlin College. I had said the perfect place for the City and the schools to work together would be in the new high school, to make it more efficient. Although they didn’t come to the Sustainable Reserve Program funds for money for their electric lights and things like that, they did decide to put in a solar array, and the City was able to help them out with around $250,000 that we were able to give the schools toward the array. I just think that’s the perfect example of what that money was meant to be used for, because that will also save the taxpayers money in the long run because the school will have less of an electric bill. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Could you describe some of the other challenges you’ve faced in the years you’ve served Oberlin?

Oh, well, that’s an easy one, right? It’s COVID-19. I mean, that’s always going to be the first part of the sentence, “Despite COVID-19, we accomplished this or that.” COVID added layers and layers of difficulty. It’s been very hard, and when I say COVID, that kind of includes what happened right after that with George Floyd and all the unrest during the whole Trump era. It was just very difficult. We had just started with the new Council in January. It was March, so the new Council hadn’t really gelled that well. We were just trying to get our rhythm and then this happened. It really was always the giant elephant in the room.

I can imagine. Well, I don’t have to imagine — We all have been living with that for the last two years.

Exactly. That was the good part, right? We all were in it together, and I think there were a lot of good lessons. I certainly realized there’s beauty around us. Just to walk in my own neighborhood is wonderful. I don’t have to travel to other places. There’s lots to learn: how do you help people? Who do you help? How do you help them effectively? And then what can you do legally? It gets really complicated. But I’m so glad. This has been such a privilege. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been really challenged. I hope I’ve grown in the job. I’ve done my best.

So what made you want to retire?

It seems like you were going strong. Can I say my husband? [laughs.] I retired from Oberlin College in 2012. I’d like to have more freedom to travel, visit my grandkids, things like that. Work does tie you down. I don’t think it has to, but I’m the type of person where it does take a lot of time and thought. It lives in your head a lot, so it will just be nice to clear that a little bit. I also think you should always leave a party when it’s going well, and I think we’re heading in such a good direction and accomplishing so much, so I think this is a good time to go.