Friday, April 14, 2006

Why are citizens not involved?

Why do the majority of citizens not get involved in day to day politics unless the mainstream media picks up on an issue?
There are some city council members, mayors and city managers that would want you to believe that it is because citizens fully trust that their elected officials represent citizens views. I don't believe this is entirely true. I think if cities put their meeting agendas on the front page of their web-site, with links to elected official's e-mail addresses, input would increase dramatically. This wouldn't cost any extra tax money to implement. Most cities already post the agenda's for upcoming meetings, but, they usually bury them a few levels deep on their sites. Giving additional input to elected officials isn't a bad thing is it? Perhaps the majority of city council members in the state would rather do the citizen's work in a vacuum without citizen input.
In Woods Cross, we have a great tool that is, in my opinion, under utilized. We have a reader board in front of our City Hall. This would have been a great place for the city to put an announcement about the City Council work meeting that was held on April 11th. This work meeting was to discuss the plan for the Woods Cross Town Center development. Would it have been bad to receive citizen input at such a meeting?


Former Centerville Citizen said...

Sadly, a lot of citizens simply don't care. And even for those citizens who do have some concern, it's all about priorities; for most people, work, family, church, watching sports, etc., are more important than attending city council meetings.

Reach Upward said...

Actually, Gary Andres says here that studies show that--at least as far as national politics--most voters don't want to be bothered with the details. They want politicians that listen to them and that they can then trust to take all of the input and do the right thing. Most voters just want the big picture, not the day-to-day stuff.

You have some good points about making politicians more accessible to public input. I can contact my local politicians anytime I want, but I have found that I have to be careful not to wear out my welcome. It can cause people to ignore the message. I've found that it's best to focus on the issues most important to me and make targeted contacts about them.

Former Centerville Citizen said...

I would hope that any decent mayor or city council member would appreciate and take into consideration good public input from any citizen, regardless of how often that citizen gives input or is involved.

ARCritic said...

My city has a link to the agendas of council meetings, RDA meetings and planning commission meetings. I will have to check to find how easy it is to email a councilperson but phone numbers are listed with a few clicks.

Even with that not a lot of comments are forth coming. And except for a few specific issues very few people come to council meetings, though I understand that because of the way the meetings are run, there is really not much chance for public input at that time.

I do agree with CC that there are simply too many other aspects of life that rank higher on the priority for most people. Not that I don't think local govenment couldn't do a better job of informing and encouraging input.

Tyler Farrer said...

I've come to the conclusion that; in order to get someone involved in politics, you must first manage to get them involved in politics. While this reasoning sounds circular, I think it is true. Advertising for citizenship is not as simple as reserving a full-page ad in the paper. The only advertising that works requires the audience to jump/fall in head first.