Currently several city commissions are outside of the policy-making process (e.g. human rights commission, health, transportation). There are some policies locally that do require commission approval (e.g. planning commission) prior to enactment, but most policies are not vetted by the commissions the council has appointed. To work around this process the city has worked hard to set-up ad hoc community listening sessions. I am certainly in favor of community sessions like these, as they can be enormously helpful at bringing stakeholders together. But I take the need for these listening sessions as a failure in our government processes. Engagement between the government and the community should be ongoing and outreach efforts should be as well.
- We currently have multiple independent community groups working from the outside-in to pressure the city to move policy forward. These groups represent important constituencies that deserve to be recognized and should be within the decision-making process. For those groups that wish it, where there are overlapping goals, the city council should assign a council member to work with these groups in helping to set policy goals and priorities.
- City commissions should be broadly included in the policy vetting and approval process before a vote is made by city council.
- City commissions should be representative of the community and its needs. I believe there is demonstrated need for commissions made up only of immigrants, people of color, renters, seniors, and the disability community. These underrepresented groups would be charged with being representatives for their communities within policy approval processes.
- National Night Out should be across the calendar. Council members should get out into the community and host events for the local community to come together and freely discuss what is happening at the city level and actively seek the feedback of neighbors. Prior to council meetings there is a voluntary speaking time where the city may take comments for a short period. This time should be codified, and if necessary add another time that isn’t on a weeknight for unlimited public comment.