Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming In

I wanted to take a moment today to give an update in my quest to reach local elected officials about the proposed "Sports Complex" project in Oakland Mills. You will recall that I first heard from:

Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball

Howard County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty

Maryland State Delegate Shane Pendergrass

Maryland State Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary

Howard Councilwoman Jen Terrasa

And, since Friday I have also heard from:

Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein

Maryland State Senator Guy Guzzone

Columbia Association President and CEO Milton Matthews

I was puzzled that I hadn't heard from anyone at all on the CA Board, which made me wonder if somehow my email had been lost in the ether. So I reached out to two members I know to make sure they had received it. They had. Michael Cornell (River Hill) said, and this is really good to know, that emails addressed to everyone are less likely to receive a response than ones addressed individually. And Brian Dunn (Kings Contrivance) said he thought that members were just waiting to learn more about the subject before responding.

So, all in all, I've had a pretty good response. I clearly have some follow-up to do if I want to reach a 100 percent response level. As this is a topic I obviously care a lot about, I'll clearly be doing just that.

One more thing: I shared this information on my blog as a way of saying, "This is what I did. This is what happened. What has been your experience under similar circumstances.?" It was not an exercise in shaming anyone. When ordinary citizens contact their elected officials, you can be sure they communicate amongst themselves about what kind of a response they received. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing, for good or ill. The only difference here is that I have a blog, so I can open up my experience for public discussion.

As I was pondering how to wrap this up I heard yesterday's broadcast of the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU. The topic was how newly-elected members of Congress learn the ins and outs of their jobs in Washington. The guest was describing how carefully letters from constituents were scanned and tallied so that totals could be amassed for views on different issues. One thing that representatives often forgot, however? Responding.

He went on, "The two most important words an elected official can ever say to a constituent are: I'm listening."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.