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Improving town communications and engagement

The world is changing and so is the way we communicate. While face-to-face communication will always be my first preference, the reality is Erie residents are often busy with their families and prefer to have multiple communication methods available to engage with their elected officials.

Throughout my four years as Trustee, I am widely recognized as one of the most engaged and accessible Trustees. I held monthly chats around Town throughout the entirety of my term and made myself available to residents through a variety of communication channels to suit their preference (in-person meetings, phone calls, emails, digital, and more). On my Facebook page before each BOT meeting, I summarize agenda items for upcoming meetings and educate residents on important issues. Proactive communication helps residents stay informed, engaged, and know when items on an agenda may impact their lives.

As Erie's next Mayor, I will build upon these efforts to connect Erie residents with their elected officials. I have four pillars to improve town communications and engagement.

The first pillar of my plan is to increase the proactive notification distance for development proposals from 300 feet to 500 feet and include notification for the entire neighborhood if any part of the neighborhood falls within the 500 feet threshold. The current 300 feet threshold barely gets to streets of houses around a development and knowing that both residential and commercial developments have an impact much larger than just the adjacent street or two, I believe it is important to notify residents in a larger area to upcoming proposals.

The second pillar of my plan is to increase face-to-face options for residents with the Mayor and Board of Trustees. I will continue my monthly meet and greets, creating office hours for the Mayor and encourage other Board members to follow suit so residents can engage with their elected leadership in person and share ideas and concerns. Frequent and transparent communication helps keep rumors at bay by keeping residents informed.

The third pillar of my plan is to increase transparency and education of upcoming and planned development applications. I will work with our Town technology vendors to create a one-stop-shop for residents online to check out upcoming development applications and the meetings associated with these developments. Often times residents hear about an item much later in the process and by the time they give their feedback to the Board, it is too late in the process to have their input incorporated. I would like residents to know about all planned commercial/residential projects and when/where meetings are so their voice will be heard.

The fourth pillar of my plan is to create a forum for HOA representatives and neighborhood representatives for those neighborhoods without HOAs to meet with Town Staff and the Mayor to increase two-way communication between the Town and Erie's neighborhoods. The HOA/neighborhood representatives can relay issues and concerns from their neighborhood to the Town, and the Town can inform HOAs of upcoming development applications that could impact their neighborhood and share other information that would be valuable to flow down to residents.

Being open, transparent, engaged and in an educational mindset is the best way to keep residents informed and encourage a productive dialogue with elected leadership.