My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the ...
My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation.
In the past, I’ve been frustrated by local elections. It’s so hard to find any information about the names, positions, and issues on the ballot. Just what does a county commissioner commission, anyway? (I now know that the county commissioners are the county-level equivalent of city council.)
Getting involved in advocacy for bicycling and walking, I’ve gotten to know local government employees. Last year, I wanted to write an article about what city council candidates think about bicycling and walking in Kirksville. I found the candidates’ names in the newspaper but I wasn’t sure how to contact them. I asked a friend in city government and she referred me to the city clerk, who promptly sent me names and phone numbers.
I loved having personal conversations with the city council candidates! I felt like a responsible and informed voter.
I repeated the project with this year’s election, and I thought it would be nice to write a similar article for other communities’ candidates because my blog their newspapers have picked up my blog. This time I knew to contact the city clerks, and I was surprised to learn that Kirksville does things a little differently than other cities.
The first week I was unsuccessful because I happened to pick the week of the city clerks’ conference. I tried again the next week. The city clerks were all cooperative, returning my messages and responding to my emails with reasonable promptness.
One city clerk said, “Well, I’ve got their names, but let me see, I’ll have to look for their phone numbers.” She checked the water bill records to get their phone numbers. I thought it was funny that the candidates’ contact information was not closer to hand!
Another city clerk said, “I’ll have to check with legal whether I can give out the candidates’ contact information.” She was able to give me the emails of the candidates who were incumbents, but for the candidates who were not incumbents she could only send my message to them and ask them to contact me. Both did contact me, but I thought it was funny that someone could run for city council and not provide a public contact number or email.
Some city clerks gave me phone numbers instead of or in addition to email addresses. Phone calls worked the best.
A couple city clerks gave me only candidates’ emails, and that was the least successful method of reaching the candidates. Emails can too easily be ignored. I did not get any interviews for Boonville because none of the 5 candidates responded to my email.
The city should facilitate the democratic process which is difficult enough at the local level without additional hurdles. I am pleased that Kirksville is so helpful, swiftly giving me candidates’ phone numbers. Kirksville can also be proud of the Candidates’ Forum that the Chamber hosts each year. I didn’t realize that most communities don’t have that either.