Story provided by City of Stillwater
Speak Up, Stillwater is a new online platform designed to make it easy for Stillwater residents to provide input for City staff and council to see. This platform is part of the City’s ongoing initiative to expand opportunities for residents to get involved in their local government.
“Speak Up, Stillwater is a game-changer,” Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce said. “Residents now have an efficient, safe and convenient way to share their input on community topics directly with City Council and staff. Council is excited to see how this platform benefits Stillwater residents moving forward.”
Topics available for input on the platform can include economic development, transportation projects, public safety, utility services, and more.
The platform offers many ways to submit input: Q&A forums, idea submissions, quick polls, and even interactive maps that residents can update for location-specific items.
These tools serve as a more robust and direct alternative to submitting input or concerns through social media.
“When you message the City Facebook or Twitter, you’re not getting the direct line to appropriate staff,” Joyce said. “Speak Up, Stillwater enables residents to make their voice heard directly by the source, expert, or decision-maker of the topic- whether that is City Council or City staff who are implementing the topics or projects at hand.”
Although the public can attend council meetings, public hearings are for items that are on that meeting’s particular agenda. Speak Up, Stillwater will be taking input on relevant topics around the clock.
Wondering who exactly will be listening? On the right side of each topic page, residents can see a list of “Who’s Listening,” as well as the phone and email contact of that staff member or elected official. City council and staff will receive your feedback, provide timely project updates, and report back on how your feedback contributed to decisions made.
The level of engagement is also listed on each topic, informing residents of the types of involvement being sought. Levels of engagement include:
- Inform: Be informed on current community topics.
- Consult: Give your feedback to City Council and staff.
- Involve: Have your influence on topics recognized.
- Partner: Your partnership with your local government matters.
Some current topics residents can participate in right now include:
- City Recycling Program
- Streetscaping near the OSU campus
- The Husband Street Bicycle Corridor
- Strickland Park Accessible Play Area and Gathering Place
- The 2020 Census
Speak Up, Stillwater is just part of the City of Stillwater’s Civic Engagement Initiative. What does it mean when we say civic engagement or public engagement? These terms mean city officials want to encourage public participation and an understanding of government through outreach and inclusiveness initiatives that inspire trust and confidence in local government.
There are everyday municipal governmental topics or projects that may benefit from early or expanded civic engagement—Including major policy decisions, city planning initiatives, transportation initiatives, the budget process, topics of significant public interest, topics with citywide impact, topics involving “not in my neighborhood attitudes” or simply new city services or programs.
“Every day, we work to deliver Stillwater residents timely and accurate information while empowering them to be involved in community decisions that affect them,” Director of Marketing and Civic Engagement Sherry Fletcher said. “We understand that not all residents have the time or means to attend public forums. Our variety of civic engagement platforms is meant to address that.”
The Civic Engagement tab under Government at Stillwater.org lists a variety of opportunities for residents to get involved. Besides Speak Up, Stillwater, residents are encouraged to utilize the following platforms to make their voice heard:
- Pop Up City Hall. Look for a bright blue and white umbrella at public events, and you will see a pop up city hall, which means you will be able to talk to city management and elected officials about topics you are interested in — at an event you were already planning to attend. If you can’t be there in person, you can use social media to ask officials questions or provide input in real-time. Dates for Pop Up City Hall will be advertised throughout the year. If you are hosting a public event and would like to have a Pop Up City Hall on location, email email@example.com.
- FlashVote. Do you have one minute a month to help make your local government better? If so, you should sign up for FlashVote. It’s a secure, anonymous, scientific survey service that allows residents to provide input via surveys covering topics directly affecting Stillwater. Participants can choose to receive surveys through email, text message, phone call, or by logging onto an internet browser. Surveys are open for 48 hours and residents can review citywide results 24 hours after a survey is closed. To sign up by phone, call 775.235.2340 and mention you want to sign up for FlashVote in Stillwater.
- FYI Stillwater. Subscribe to your local government podcast, FYI Stillwater. You’ll hear information about your local government you didn’t know that you needed to know. Find FYI Stillwater at Stillwater.org, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
- Balancing Act. Try your hand at balancing the City of Stillwater’s Annual Budget to provide input on the development of the FY21 Proposed Operating Budget. Balancing Act is an online simulation tool that allows you to submit your plan by making changes to revenues and expenditures. Results (but not personal information) will be collected and reviewed by city management to present to City Council as part of the budget process. The simulation will remain active to allow residents to use it as a tool to understand the budget. Balancing Act is a part of FY21 Budget Input, which includes civic group presentations, public hearings, and other input opportunities.
- Taxpayer Receipt. A companion piece to Balancing Act, Stillwater’s Taxpayer Receipt lets you see where your tax dollars are going and how you contribute to funding the City’s general budget services and programs.
For questions about Speak Up, Stillwater or other civic engagement initiatives, contact Sherry Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org