Thursday, May 8, 2008
Local elections are coming up next month. Have you received your sample ballot in the mail yet? Have you looked at it? What are the local issues you're most interested in right now? & Are you even going to vote this time around?
A few local cities in San Diego County have created programs to create a more informed and involved citizen. Last fall I graduated from the Carlsbad "Citizens' Academy" and would love to see each city design a similar program. It was really terrific. The Carlsbad Citizens' Academy is a seven-week program held on consecutive Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 pm, with the exception of one session that includes a citywide bus tour beginning at noon.
The city's Web site boasts the following benefits from attending their program:
- Meet City council members, department heads, and staff
- Enjoy comprehensive overviews of departments and detailed descriptions of a wide array of programs and services
- Discover where we've been and where we're going in terms of development, traffic, growth management, recreation, the environment, and other topics of concern and interest
- Learn about issues that impact you ... and find out how you can have an impact on the issues
- Participate in lively discussions, role-playing, fun activities, and congenial conversation
- Tour city facilities and mingle with fellow students and staff at informal get-togethers
- Become an informed, involved citizen who can help make the city work for everyone
They didn't even mention the other fun perks such as:
- You don't have to cook dinner once a week, but instead can enjoy a lovely catered dinner from a local restaurant.
- You win prizes and city swag by participating in lively discussions each week.
- You get to ride up in one of those Public Works cherry picker trucks.
- You make great friends and create contacts with neighbors in your city who are movers and shakers.
- You understand how decisions are made in your town and who owns that weird building on the corner.
- You're given a long list of specific ways you can make a difference in your own community.
- You learn how to stop the whining and actually get productive
If your city doesn't have one of these great programs call your City Manager today and encourage him or her to create one. Rather than complain about the problems, learn how you can contribute to the solution instead.
In the inspiring words of President Kennedy, "Ask not what San Diego can do for you, but what you can do for San Diego" or something like that.
If you don't think your city government is doing a decent job then get in there and help. You might even discover some of the good things that are being done. Rather than complain endlessly, stop and smell the rosebuds.
- Citizen Voices blogger Trina Boice is an author and mother of four who lives in Carlsbad.