When the Chicago City Council is sworn in on May 16th, there will be a total of 18 Alderman starting their first day or their first full term. In light of this massive turnover and yesterday’s election, in which several incumbents lost and a few others held on by the skin of their teeth, it is important for elected officials to address two issues voters all over Chicago (and the country) are talking about – constituent services and transparency.
Voters want to be able to access their elected officials, they want their concerns to be heard, and they want to know what their elected officials are doing. The demands are very straight forward but some elected officials just don’t get it. They’re neglecting the simplest (and most affordable) way of appeasing these demands – through the internet!
Below are three simple, web-based steps elected officials can take to serve their constituents and keep their offices transparent:
Start a Service Website – The website your neighbor built you isn’t going to cut it, you need a service website that is worthy of being your constituents first stop. They need to be able to file service requests, learn about government services, find answers to common questions, read your news updates, find community events, and read about your initiatives at a bare minimum. There’s also a lot more you can do, like using an Instant Message client on your website to save constituents a trip to your office and allow your staff to handle simple requests faster.
Send Regular eNewsletters – What is the easiest way to be transparent? Tell your constituents what you’re doing on a regular basis. You’ll also save time, and a tremendous amount of money, by communicating via email. Building an email list is easier than you think. You can get started by collecting email addresses when people visit your office, using sign-in sheets at community events, and by pulling emails off of that giant stack of business cards you have.
Keep Your Social Networks Active – Facebook has over 500 million users and it is growing every day, there is a good chance that a lot of your constituents are using it. So why not engage them where they are? However, it’s not good enough to start a facebook page and never use it again. People are communicating and getting their news from facebook, keep them updated. It’s also possible to create a custom page so your constituents can fill out service requests, sign up for you email list, and read custom content on facebook.
I hope this helps. If you’d like more information, feel free to contact us.