A Challenge to the District 1 Post 1 Candidates to Take a Position on Town Hall Meetings

First, I want to thank readers of the Milton Coalition Blog. Since the blog was reactivated 3 months ago, the blog has received over 3000 views (and this does not include views by the many readers that receive blog posts by email).  Blog traffic is trending sharply upward. The blog is now being read by more than 200 citizens each day.  One purpose of the blog is to stimulate engagement of Milton’s citizens, as I believe good governance and citizen engagement are highly correlated.  Another purpose of the blog is to promote accountability in our government.  The high traffic to the blog means that the Milton Coalition blog often shows up on the first page of search engine results for local candidates and current/former elected officials, ensuring that an alternative exists to candidate/council member narratives and the City of Milton’s PR (and the Milton Herald‘s vanilla reporting).  So whether you agree with me or not, thank you for visiting the blog and considering my perspectives.  Vigorous debate and an informed citizenry are essential elements of a well-functioning democracy.

Below is the text of an email that I sent to the 2 candidates for Milton City Council for District 1 Post 1.  I strongly believe that town hall meetings are an excellent means for ensuring accountability, honesty, and transparency from both elected representatives and Milton’s appointed leaders.  On a regular basis, citizens should be afforded the opportunity to engage in respectful public dialogue with government officials to understand their stances on major issues facing Milton and the principles by which decisions are made.  Town hall meetings are a governance best practice that Milton is long overdue in adopting.  Town hall meetings are a key mechanism for shifting power back to citizens.  I will publish the responses of both candidates to my challenge (once my Friday deadline passes).  From my perspective, candidate stances on town hall meetings are an important indicator of whether candidates are truly interested in good governance and in constructively and substantively engaging citizens to ensure community prerogatives are the top priority.


Ms. Tucker and Ms. Verhoff: 

First, congratulations on earning your way to the run-off election for District 1 Post 1.  Representing the citizens of Milton is a great honor and privilege.  Thank you for stepping up to run.  Having been immersed in Council Member Bentley’s campaign in 2017, I know that running for local office requires a lot of time and effort and sometimes is painful.

As you might know, I have been steeped in Milton politics for over 6 years as an advocate for good governance, so my focus has been more on process and principles, and less on policy.  I believe more attention needs to be devoted to the architecture of government.  As a former naval officer and a strategy consultant, I know that good outcomes (i.e., policy) are only possible through good processes.  And good process is a result applying the following principles to government design:  rigor, fairness, transparency, honesty, and accountability.  Milton deserves a government as good as its citizens.  At my blog, I have floated many no-brainer, easily implementable suggestions for improving governance.  However, there is one idea that stands above the rest and could be a game-changer for good governance in Milton:  town hall meetings.  Town hall meetings are a widely recognized best practice in municipal government.  So I am issuing a challenge to the both of you to take a position on town hall meetings and provide an answer to the following question: 

Do you support and will you advocate for quarterly, videotaped (and live-streamed) town hall meetings of citizens with City Council and separately with appointed city leadership (i.e., the City Manager and his leadership team) to engage in two-way, respectful Q&A and dialogue? 

A simple YES or NO answer will suffice.  However, if you wish to elaborate on your answer, please feel free to do so (but limit responses to 200 words and to the issue of town hall meetings).  If you do not respond by November 19th at noon, I will assume that your answer is NO.  I will publish each candidate’s responses at the blog.  In responding, please understand that many of Milton’s most concerned citizens (my conservative estimate is 200+) are blog subscribers or are non-subscribers who visit the blog on a regular basis.  Furthermore, recent blog traffic has been increasing dramatically in the run-up to early voting; voters are hungry for substantive information on the candidates.  Blog readers are not only informed citizens that vote but often citizens that care enough to exercise influence within their social networks to advocate on issues and/or promote candidates.  This is an opportunity to reach those citizens.

I look forward to your responses. 

Advocating for transparency, honesty, and accountability through town hall meetings, 

Tim Becker