The following text is printed in today's Chagrin Solon Sun. It was written by Richmond Heights Councilwoman, Miesha Headen, and me. It's not yet online so here's the text as submitted.
The headlines in newspapers have been filled with demands from citizens for more ethical, accountable, transparent, and diverse government. We believe that it is the responsibility of local governments to honestly answer these demands. However, we believe that the citizens are equally responsible for instituting these demands through public service and seeking elected office.
Some cities throughout the country are actively working toward a more inclusive vision of civic engagement. Technology is a tool to achieve this objective. The National League of Cities (NCL) released a guide, called “Beyond Civility: From Public Engagement to Problem Solving”, which highlights how municipalities from Lancaster, PA to Manor, TX are employing technology to encourage residents to participate in important aspects of city government.
Simply put, municipalities need to move beyond town hall meetings as the only means to engage their busy and tech savvy residents. There is, indeed, no time like the present. Northeast Ohio is home to several universities, multiple software companies, and technology companies funded through Third Frontier. We have a brand new county government. The technology is at our fingertips.
So we are asking: “Why not here? Why not now?” To stand still in today’s world is to drift backwards. We cannot afford to ignore developments in e-government and e-participation, both of which require elected officials to engage, encourage and embrace their constituents.
This evolution in government can only happen if people demand it through participation. Throughout Cuyahoga County, local elections go uncontested, city council meetings sit empty, and local school board meetings receive no attention until a problem arises.
While campaigning for our respective positions on city council, we had the privilege to meet so many innovative, intelligent, and exuberant residents. We want you to get involved in the noble work of public service. Fresh faces in the public sphere are needed to counter negative ones and to create a pipeline for northeast Ohio’s government leadership.
On February 19th at 10:00 am at the Homewood Residence in Richmond Heights (3 Homewood Drive, Richmond Heights, OH 44143), we are holding a non-partisan, forum on public service to encourage people to work in the public service and elected office. Be the change you wish to see.