When it comes to local government, citizens want not only a voice in the process, but they want to be kept informed about what their elected officials are doing. This is, after all, a government that exists to serve you in a transparent and open manner. It is my goal to improve communication between the City of Berkley and its residents, which is why I voted to establish the Citizens Engagement Advisory Committee (CEAC). I will continue to make sure that channels of communication stay open and that the workings of your local government are open and transparent and foster a dialogue between the city and its residents.
Berkley is a place where senior citizens, retirees, families with school age children, and young adults live side by side. This is part of what makes Berkley such a great place to live, but it also means that we must have a dynamic communications strategy. While social media has its place, it is not enough to push information out on the Internet and hope for the best. We need to reach people where they’re at, which means using a mix of different modes like direct mail, text messaging, social media, neighborhood canvasses, or video updates about important projects. That means city leaders coming to the residents, and not sitting back and waiting for the residents to come to us. As a member of council, I have gone to numerous community group meetings and city events, had conversations in local businesses, and sat with residents in their homes to make sure we are bringing government to the people. As your councilmember, it is my job to be responsive to residents’ needs and to keep the conversation going about how we can continue to improve how we serve our neighbors.
The CEAC was tasked with helping to come up with innovative ways to dialogue with residents, whether that be an overhaul of the City’s website or the creation and designation of Block Ambassadors. Berkley is a city where neighbors know and look out for each other and Block Ambassadors would add a layer of communication between government and citizens that is currently lacking. We need to get back to more face to face, person to person dialogue. Every resident is important and we want everyone to be kept in the loop and be part of the solution.
Additionally, I have presented to the City an expansion of the successful Berkley Citizens Police Academy and suggested a Citizens Local Government Academy where residents can take part in the day to day administration of the City, learn what local government does on a day to day basis and further open the door of transparency for every resident.