Re-imagining Local Government

Ed Durkin and Susan Vezza write about their ideas to transform local government.

What if we re-imagine, even if slightly, the way local government works? What if we examine the barriers we put up that make it more difficult for the residents of Caldwell to get involved in building a stronger community? 

Ultimately, it comes down to small things that turn into big ideas.  Here are a few ideas we had that we believe could transform the way government works in Caldwell.


Part of good government is making sure that government is accessible.  The televising of council meetings has been proposed before and we think it’s a good idea.  To take it a step further, we want to use YouTube to provide five-minute video summaries of council business so residents can keep up to date even in a time crunch.

We would like to explore the idea of using Caldwell’s webpage (and maybe even a mobile app) to post an interactive parking map which shows residents and visitors where to park, how long they can park there, how far it is walk to key downtown locations and other information about the downtown.

Office Hours and Neighborhood Walks:   

Council meetings are important, but might deter residents from sharing good ideas.   We want to start holding office hours every other Saturday, where we can talk about ideas and concerns over a cup of coffee or lunch in one of our downtown establishments.  We have a lot of smart people living in town and we should encourage them to share their ideas. 

We also would set up neighborhood walks, where we would walk with residents through their neighborhoods and discuss ideas and concerns that might impact a particular area in town. 

We believe by bringing more people into the local government, we will in effect create a citizen’s think tank that will help us tackle some of the challenges we face. 

The Budget:

Building on our previous two points, we believe the budgeting process is best conducted as a transparent and open activity that the entire community should partake in.  We want to post the budget online in an interactive form so our residents can work with the numbers and send in any ideas that might save the Borough some money.  This approach has worked well in other municipalities and we think Caldwell should give it a try. 

We believe that if we re-imagine local government as an inclusive institution then we can take the best ideas from the community and put them in to action.  Isn’t it time we took a community approach to government?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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