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Austin's New Mayor Wants to Hear From Every Austinite

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
KUT News

Right now, if you live in Austin and you want to talk to your city council members, you have few options. You can sign up for citizen communications on Thursdays at noon, or you can wait until the end of regular business at a council meeting. That’s pretty much it.

And it isn't as though council members don't want people to call them or email them. But few people do.

Austin's new mayor Steve Adler believes the current system is leaving the community at large with no access to the officials it elected, that's why today, he and the new council are holding brainstorming sessions to find ways to get more people engaged. "Wouldn't it be great if people could give their testimony or their input on ideas on issues facing the city remotely?"

Instead of having people waiting at city hall, Adler envisions a site or an electronic bulletin board where Austinites could have an ongoing conversation with officials.

But, what about those with no internet access or those who are not internet savvy? Adler said there are ways to engage them. But more importantly, he said, the city "should be working on ways to ensure that more and more, and eventually all of its citizens, are in fact online and engaged."

Today, the Austin City Council will also brainstorm on ways to shorten its meetings. One idea is to break down the 11-member council into committees.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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