State Of The City Bingo
It's just one of those things. You know you're supposed to vote. You know you're supposed to be aware of politics, government, the news, etc.
But that doesn't mean that it's easy.
There's nothing worse that walking into the voting booth on election day and seeing a list of names that you've never heard of. Then you're left with a hard choice - do you just pick someone at random? Or do you walk away and not even cast a vote at all?
I've had people admit to me that they've decided who to vote for based on whether or not they liked the sound of the candidate's name.
I think we can all agree that's not a great way to run a democracy.
So what do we do about it? How can we start to educate ourselves now so that when an election comes around (cough, cough November 2018) we feel confident walking into that voting booth?
Here's my recommendation of where to start. Watch or attend the mayor's State of the City Address on Tuesday, February 20th from 6pm to 7:30pm.
Kind of like the State of the Union (but for local government), this speech is given by the mayor annually, providing him with an opportunity to lay out all of his priorities and goals for the upcoming year. Because of that, listening to the speech is a great way to tune into local government for the first time.
And 2018 is particularly important year to be tuned into government because it's a big election year, both nationally and at the local level.
You've probably already seen a lot of news articles about the significance of the national midterm elections. Even though they traditionally have crazy low voter turnout rates (about 25 percent in 2014), midterm elections are what shape our Congress and state Legislature. These are important law-making bodies that affect things like college tuition prices, environmental regulations, and immigration policy.
What you've probably heard less about are our local elections... but the truth is, they are big deal. In November 2018, half of our City Council and the mayor will be up for reelection. These are the people that affect things like the quality of our parks, the affordability of homes, and (of course) the status of our dreaded traffic.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler will be talking about all of these issues (and more) during his State of the City Address. That's why now is the time to tune in. Even if you know nothing about local government, you'll be able to pick up on some of our biggest issues and start off the new year on a path to making yourself a confident, impressive, know-it-all voter by November.
And if that's still not enough to make you watch, we've decided to make things even more fun. (Because we think getting involved in your community and making a difference should actually be fun! Call us crazy.)
Together with Glasshouse Policy, we'll be cohosting a State of the City watch party at CU29 Cocktail Bar in downtown Austin on February 20th from 5:30pm to 8pm. At the event we'll be livestreaming the speech, answering any of your questions, and playing a rousing game of State of the City bingo.
Plus, we'll also be launching our official Kickstarter campaign, allowing you to get your hands on the first copies of "A Beginner's Guide To Local Government."
All are welcome! Can't wait to see you there! You can RSVP here.
PS - Can't make it to the event, but still want to play State of the City bingo? You can livestream Mayor Adler's speech at http://www.austintexas.gov/page/watch-atxn-live or you can watch it on TV on one of the following channels:
- Time Warner Cable: Channel 6
- Grande Communications: Channel 6 (or Channel 122.6 without a cable box)
- AT&T U-Verse: Channel 99