Mayor-elect John Stromberg is taking a new approach to the annual state of the city address the mayor gives each January. He wants to hear the state of the city from the people who live and work there every day.

What is the state of the city? Ask the people who live there.

Mayor-elect John Stromberg is taking a new approach to the annual state of the city address the mayor gives each January, asking the opinions of those who live and work in Ashland every day.

Stromberg is soliciting input from any and all Ashland residents on what they believe are the most important issues facing the community — up to five observations per person.

"Asking the questions is maybe more important than just giving citizens a report," he said. "I'm going to talk about my perception of the whole state of things, but at a time like this, turning it around and asking the people, that's an important thing."

He wants to use the community as a resource and figure out how to get more people involved, he said. During the speech, he will also address how events outside of the city could affect Ashland and where the city could be headed in the future, he said.

The state of the city address is typically used as an opportunity for the mayor to address major issues and lay out an agenda for what he hopes to accomplish in the upcoming year, City Administrator Martha Bennett said.

She has never seen another mayor take Stromberg's approach, she said.

"It's kind of refreshing considering that the whole reason we do this work is for the people who live, work and visit here," she said. "He's interested in what people think about the city. I think it's cool."

Stromberg asked that people who wish to submit remarks e-mail them to jsfm@opendoor.com no later than Monday, Dec. 29. He will give his address at the City Council meeting on Jan. 6, 2009.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or jfrench@dailytidings.com.