This is a complaint I’ve heard both before and during the campaign, “The city doesn’t listen”. Let me first preface this post by saying the average city employee is both hard working and caring. I’ve dealt with many city employees from several different departments and have never had a bad experience. These people do care. For the remainder of this post, I’m talking about the people who are supposed to represent you, the citizen.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about those complaints. I’ve already talked about the property tax issue in another post, so I won’t delve too deeply into that here. I’ll just mention that the council prefers a method of taxation that does not lend itself to citizen choice or input. Were the citizens of Richardson more engaged in council work sessions and meetings, we’d have a bigger voice in the actions of the council and the direction of the city.
That brings me to my next point. I feel that the council should do more to engage the citizens. Richardson is estimated to have around 106,000 residents. How can seven council member engage 106,000 people? That would be over 15,000 residents per council member. That doesn’t seem feasible to meet and listen to that many people. I’ve heard a couple council members say during the forums that no one is coming to the council meetings and asking the council any questions. So is the best way to engage the citizens to wait for those citizens to show up to a council meeting? What about the citizens who can’t attend council meetings because of work commitments or because they’re at home caring for family members?
I think there is a better way to engage the citizens. I’ve said during the forums that I support having more town hall meetings to focus on city issues. These town hall meetings need to be held on different nights of the week so we can engage as many citizens as possible. When we have block parties, I think council members should try to attend as many of these as possible. It would be great to get to meet your council representatives in person and ask them questions.
Another change would be to have on online city forum. This gives anyone the ability to ask questions to their representatives at any time. It’s also a good way to find out if other people have the same concerns you have. When a council member answers a question, other citizens have the benefit of seeing the answer to a question they may have had as well. We can also have informal polls on the site that would give the council an idea of what the citizens find important.
The council may not always have the time during a council meeting to explain why a decision was made. This online forum would give them the ability to better explain their decision making process to the people they represent. This sounds to me like it would be a win for both the citizens and the council. No matter what decision the council makes, there will be a citizen that disagrees. There is no way to make every single citizen happy. We’re a diverse community of people for very different backgrounds. If someone doesn’t agree with your decision as a council, at least they’ll understand your reasoning.
I feel like the changes I’ve listed above will help bring the council and citizens closer together. I know I can bring this change to the city. That’s why I’m asking for your vote. I want to make sure that the citizens are represented by their government.