Empowering The Community to Lead
The city decides what it wants to accomplish, whether it’s rezoning an area, redeveloping a street or creating the next new committee. The city’s staff then goes ahead and makes many of the decisions. Once the city employees choose what they want to do and decide how they are going to do it, the city announces a meeting with the community. A public notice goes out to the newspaper, the city posts the notice to Facebook and sends out a newsletter read by very few, most of whom have little to no personal time to attend the meeting. The city shows a presentation filled with flip charts, selected data, questionnaires, multiple-choice surveys, case studies, maybe relevant sources and the whole community engagement checkbox on a project is fulfilled.
Technically, yes, the people were informed, but not enough of our community was engaged in the decision-making process. Those who are impacted the most by the decisions of our city government are left out, however innocently, by the reality of life and timing. I’d like to change all of that.
Although common, this scenario is not how genuine community engagement is supposed to work. Those folks behind the scenes who make the day-to-day decisions are often disconnected from the realities of the people they serve. No one knows the needs of the community better than its citizens. If we want to move forward and build a better city that works for everyone, we have to change our approach and connect directly with you, whether in-person or online. We must move away from a process involving a technocratic approach where decisions happen with minimal input and down a path that includes many more voices.
We can do this by providing the time, tools, and communications to allow our diverse taxpayers to take the lead in identifying priorities and being comfortable with creative solutions. Empowering the people starts by having strong leadership that understands their role within the structure of our democracy, and I intend to bend the curve back to a representative government if elected mayor of Tullahoma.