After The Election: Engaging The Citizens

Brent Finnegan -- October 29th, 2010

This is part eight of an ongoing Q&A series with candidates for Harrisonburg City Council. Election day is Tuesday, November 2.

hburgnews.com reader Josh asks: “How do you plan to engage your constituency if you are elected?”

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Carolyn Frank: I have been a big supporter of the Mayor’s Summits and will continue to participate in future summits. I am very involved in the community serving at the local soup kitchen and volunteering for HARTS. As a council person you are invited to almost every community function and I attend quite a few, but cannot do all. Council members contact information is available on the web. Our public hearings are publicized on C-span and in the local paper. When I am contacted by a citizen, I respond. My first election was May 2000. I ran on open and responsive government. Citizens are welcomed at City Hall and are always invited to be a part of the process. Public comment used to be at the end of the meetings. Sometimes citizens would have to wait hours to be heard. I was on council when we changed citizen comments to the beginning of the meetings to better accommodate those who want to bring their concerns to Council. Of course, I am always open for suggestions on ways that I may serve the public better.

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Greg Coffman: The same way I have during my 17 year service on the City School Board, by listening to people from all corners of the city in all types of settings. Being elected doesn’t make me more intelligent than the people I represent, but it does give me the responsibility to act according to the wishes of the majority.

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Joe Fitzgerald: I have a blog, I have a listed phone number, and I have two email addresses that can be easily found. That’s the receiving part. The outreach part is going to public meetings and gatherings to listen and learn. During my first term I also periodically sent out emails seeking opinion of important issues (such as the new high school, and the sale of the old one).

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Charlie Chenault: The same way I always have, by going after them in person if at all possible. I try to involve myself in every type of activity that goes on in Harrisonburg which includes neighborhood meetings. Constituencies become engaged when they feel like you have a genuine interest in what is going on in their lives and are available to try to help them. You need to establish a reputation as being accessible which I think I have done. The northeast neighborhood is an example of a constituency that is engaged. It is critical to identify people in the neighborhood who will help sustain the engagement. Old Town is engaging on a different level after experiencing traffic safety issues. It seems that engagement results after a crystallizing event. I plan to keep my web site and make it more accessible for my messages and to receive comments from the community.

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Ted Byrd: I will continue to be open and responsive to the citizens of Harrisonburg. Through my involvement in the schools, civic organizations, and as a sitting council member, I have tried to be as accessible as possible. I try to attend the many events that I get invited to while balancing my family and work life. I encourage residents to phone, email, or just stop by the house to share their concerns or thoughts on the many issues that the City faces. I pledge to continue to listen to you carefully, do my homework, and make decisions that will balance the needs of all citizens.

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We have not yet received a response to this question from Sal Romero.

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One Response to “After The Election: Engaging The Citizens”

  1. Ross says:

    Is this the calm before the storm?

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