Getting a response from local leaders

Sometimes our community leaders don’t do what we want them to.

When we’re frustrated about this, it’s easy to generalize and say, “people in power don’t listen, they just do what they want.

It might even be tempting to think this is always true based on our worst imaginings about people who hold office, lead departments/organizations, or who otherwise have influence over the world around us. We see powerful and corrupted villains all the time in movies and on TV, and indeed there are some prominent people around the world right now who seem to be living out incredibly harmful versions of leadership and holding power.

But leaders with truly villainous intentions are probably pretty rare in Richmond and Wayne County, Indiana.

I suspect most people who have sought or been placed into positions of power — especially at the local level — are not sitting around thinking about how many people they can oppress or rubbing their palms together while laughing maniacally about their latest evil plan. They are probably not looking for the darkest, smokiest, most back of back rooms in which to devise new ways to make your life miserable.

They might have the wrong priorities, bring the wrong qualifications, or just be ignorant, but they are probably not malicious in their intent. And for better or worse, they are in a position of influence or power that affects you.

So what do YOU do when they’re not doing what you want?

If you disagree with local leaders, or have questions and concerns that you want them to address, it’s important to follow through on that and actually work to engage them directly on the issues you care about. If you assume they don’t care, or that others have tried and failed to get them to take action, and if everyone else assumes the same, then nothing will ever change for the better.

If they truly are abusing their power or not listening to the people they represent, it’s important to get that on the record sooner rather than later.

Not sure where to start? Here’s one path of “escalation” for getting a response from local leaders:

Continue reading Getting a response from local leaders

Civility and respect

This editorial from Steve Rabe is worth your time: Needed: Civility and respect in local politics.

We must bring back an atmosphere of civility, mutual respect and cooperation to politics in general, but especially to the city of Richmond. The concept of the “loyal opposition” seems to have been forgotten. The concept remembers that, at the end of the day, we are all in this together and generally all want what is best for our community, even though we may have disagreements and differences of opinion in many areas.

I’ve written before about ways to challenge someone in conversation while still being respectful. And if you regularly find yourself blinded by rage when talking to people you disagree with (or just want to improve your communication skills in general), you might appreciate the excellent book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.