Meetings to increase city-community engagement are ‘step in the right direction’, say residents

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About 25 residents of Cincinnat had the chance to tell city officials directly what they think of citizen engagement. A public meeting in Westwood on Wednesday evening is part of an ongoing effort to create a new community engagement policy for all city services.

Sue Wilke helped lead the community effort that started this process and attended the meeting. She says the city needs to be more proactive.

“It seems to me that puts the onus on the citizens – who should be proactive anyway, as it really should be a two-way street – to go to these different things, whether it’s a survey or the website or whatever. Wilke says. “But I don’t see staff being held responsible for engaging with residents.”

The city council passed an ordinance in September asking the city manager to develop the new policy. It was based on a motion passed six years ago that has never been implemented. The ordinance requires City Manager Paula Boggs-Muething to provide regular updates on the development and implementation of the plan, including an annual report.

Downtown resident Laura Castillo says the city needs to engage people directly.

“Have these conversations where they matter and where the people who need to hear them are,” says Castillo. “Even if that means going door-to-door, even if it means going to neighborhood councils. It is so, so, so important, to bring these people to the conversation and to the resources.”

Castillo says city officials often do not hear from minority and low-income communities.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “We will never be able to solve some of the biggest problems if we don’t have people talking about what they face every day.”

A last virtual public meeting is scheduled for Monday November 2 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Registration is compulsory for the virtual meeting.

A online survey will be available until December 1 at 11:59 p.m.


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