Working with government can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. It all depends on if you have done your homework and are working with the right group. Wayne County residents play a key role in successful partnerships. Over the course of this month, we have highlighted some key practices. Today, we will expand upon them.
Make sure you have done your research and have the proper information on the topic, idea, or project. Gather facts, statistics, what it would cost, etc. No one will take you seriously if you haven’t done your part.
Know your citizen rights, but also know government limits. They can’t do everything. This is where a lot of partnerships fall apart. Don’t go in with expectations that will never get met. And if you are unsure, ask a government official. They are happy to answer your questions.
Let your voice be heard. Attend public meetings, hearings, and share your thoughts. Burlingham said, “Being civically engaged takes doing. One little task contributes. Many small tasks combine into something greater.” We agree.
Make sure you are talking to the right department, branch, or groups. They each have their roles to do. This also loops back to the information segment. Don’t expect the Assessor’s office to fill in potholes.
Gather support, get to know your elected officials, and bring groups together. Imagine the reach your influence would go if you knew the elected officials, key stakeholders, funder, etc. to get a project in the works and completed.
The Forward Wayne County Steering Committee takes this role on regularly. They use their influence to help bring projects to fruition. A perfect example is the most recent Broadband Survey. They partnered with government officials to launch it county-wide.
Is there a policy or ordinance currently in place? If there isn’t, then why would one be needed? Don’t press for more regulations if it isn’t necessary. And don’t make more work for someone if it is important.
Are all parties at the table? And are all voices being heard and considered? We see this often when one partner wants to the keep a project under wraps from everyone else. This excludes input, buy-in, and future partnership. And it could lead to the failure of the project. Inclusion matters.
When government asks for input, engage. Support the work they do on your behalf. Government officials do good work and they need public buy-in. This is a key way to be an advocate and use your influence.
We like to reflect on what Wayne County Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said in his blog article for Forward Wayne County earlier this month, “While collaboration takes time, dedication, and practice, it can yield tremendous results. Those results are just around the corner. And the bonus is that, with practice, collaboration becomes easier. Let’s keep practicing.” We agree.
As we mentioned, working with the government doesn’t have to be tricky. Strong partnerships, that have residents involved, will produce some great things. Let’s all keep working to make Wayne County great.