Building trust in government
Trust can grow in an atmosphere of open communication and shared knowledge. While we live in an age where communication with our elected officials can be as simple as clicking on a website url or sending an email, writing a letter or making a phone call, we do not always know how our concerns are handled on the receiving end. Fortunately, the size of Sullivan County means that it is relatively easy to meet and speak to legislators and to engage in the policy-making process in a meaningful way. However, many people can’t leave their jobs to attend a public meeting in the middle of the day, so we have to make participation easier by making meetings more accessible and relevant. That’s why, even before taking office, I worked together with the Senior Legislative Action Committee (SLAC) and the Hurleyville Fire Company to organize an evening “Firehouse Forum” on the tax issues we face in our County. Seventy-five people attended, which is a hopeful sign. I hope there will be many more opportunities for direct public participation in our County government in the future.
A stronger partnership between citizens and public servants will surely build more trust in the leadership of our county government, a better understanding of what we can achieve together, and a renewed sense of purpose. Those are the things we need to take Sullivan County forward. So let’s get to work.
[*Cora Edwards is legislator for District 6 Liberty and Hurleyville; however, this article reflects her views as an individual, and should not be taken to represent those of other Sullivan County Legislators.]
(Footnote: A podcast of the Firehouse Forum is available at the WJFF 90.5 FM website, broadcast date December 26, 2011 on WJFF Connections and Making Waves Programs, www.wjffradio.org/wjff/index.php?section=38.)