I was elected nearly a year ago, and when people ask me how “the Council thing” is going, the answer I’ve tended to give is “I’m having more fun than at any time of my life!” That’s not to say that I don’t take the job seriously; I do. But I’ve genuinely relished the opportunity being a Councillor has offered to meet people, engage in debate, and meditate on those things that make communities thrive.
One of the things that I’ve noticed for years, and which people have confirmed, is that governments often struggle to engage with their citizenry effectively. That’s not to say there’s a lack of awareness of the need, or a lack of effort. But Councillors are used to voting on weighty matters that have been on public exhibition that attract few submissions, or attending community consultation sessions held in public venues around the district which, even if well attended, may only represent 1% of the broader electorate.
I asked our Council recently what proportion of ratepayer accounts were held on our database with a valid email address associated. The answer I got was that we have email details for only 11% of ratepayers, and mobile phone details for 26%. In contrast, the latest Census results show that 79.9% of people are connected to the Internet.
I believe it is incumbent on elected representatives to use new technologies to engage people, and I’m doing something about this.
Thus, I am pleased to announce a semi-regular video series, which will be complimentary to this website. My aim is not to become the next viral YouTube megastar (although that would be nice), but to reach parts of our citizen population that are not currently being reached — with the consequence that cynicism about government is at an all time high.
However this experiment will only work if these efforts find an audience, and reach the critical mass needed for other elected representatives to realise that the Internet is where many people gain their information about the world around them — especially Milennials, or working professionals with little time to attend evening meetings.
If you think this kind of thing is worth supporting, then please let me suggest that you subscribe, like and share.