Citizen Engagement and Legislators: Four Methods for Connecting with Constituents
By Angela Andrews | Vol . 22, No. 20 / May 2014
The room at the Hilltop YMCA was set—chairs in a circle, brochures on tables. Ohio Representative Ted Celeste was ready to start his monthly “District Dialogue” with constituents about a hot topic, casino gaming, which voters recently had legalized. He shared background information, and then the real conversation began. Celeste invited participants to discuss casino gaming’s impact on the community. They voiced their support, opposition, concerns and hopes surrounding the new initiative. Once the conversation started, Celeste’s role was that of listener and facilitator. His “District Dialogue” was citizen engagement in its simplest form: talking, listening, building connections and gaining a mutual understanding of the issue and each other’s opinions.
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