Modern Representation: City Councils Connecting to Constituents

People everywhere seem to be saying that they want to stop seeing “politics as usual.” There are some simple things elected officials can do to connect with constituents.

City council members need to be cognizant of the demographics of the area they represent. Differences in language, age, and socio-political ideology could become unintended barriers between councils and constituents. Demographic information helps elected officials to make themselves as accessible as possible to all of their constituents.

City councils should adapt new technologies to be as approachable as possible. It is critical to maintain an easy-to-use city website that gives residents access to city services and information in a comfortable and straightforward manner. Maintaining an active presence on social media enables elected officials to connect with residents in a meaningful way, because it makes it easier to follow local government issues and promotes awareness.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the young mayor and city council of Cudahy use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to communicate with residents, an in-depth website to be informative, and a bar-code-enabled sign near the city council chambers to let people download the agenda on their smartphones. Other cities in southeast LA County are electing officials with the same mindset.

Finally, elected officials must get an outside perspective. It is important to step back occasionally and allow an outside party to assess effective constituent communication. RSG has conducted a variety of market assessments, local business surveys, and other projects that help city councils to make sure they are in sync with their constituents.

Written by Michel Dietz, an Analyst at RSG