Getting involved in local politics

SO.

Like many of you, I have … recently … made a personal commitment to “get more involved in local politics.” And, like many of you, I have always been super-vague about how this is done.

Let me tell you.

It is *way* easier than you are thinking.

The first thing I did was Google “St. Paul City Council.” Which returned this.

I don’t know if your city will have such an easy website, but, holy buckets! There’s a big BUTTON halfway down the page that says CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS.

If you click on that is gives you a spreadsheet. Now, I spent about an hour clicking around on that, trying to figure out what everything was. I read a lot of slightly confusing pdfs. But the upshot was, the next public hearings were going to be on last Wednesday evening.

So, I went.

If you are planning to attend a city council meeting, remember that there is likely security at the building. Leave your pocket knife, wallet ninja, and fancy belt with the enormous buckle at home. DO print out the agenda ahead of time. DO highlight or circle the item you are there for, and make sure you know its number. DO make sure your phone is charged.

Bring a pen. Take notes. (Or, you know, live-tweet it as a form of note-taking. Ymmv.) If you want to get involved, you will want to know what views the various councilpersons hold.

And, the thing is, they are not shy about expressing their views. I mean, that’s what they are THERE for. To represent their Wards, to express their views, to guide and SHAPE the city. Like, that’s the POINT. So, stop imagining that awkward group project where no-one wants to be there and everyone refuses to make eye contact.

Instead, imagine your city council as a lively discussion between Daenerys Targaryen and her advisors. Less murder and bloodshed, sure, but one councilperson I saw DID call his fellow councilperson childish and immature. Like, on camera and in front of the assembled audience. It was highly entertaining.

I genuinely recommend attending at least ONE council meeting for your municipality. See your government at work. It’s a weird balance between endlessly fascinating and numbingly tedious. But it’s how the world gets made!

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