Soapbox: Value of Activism with Local Government

It’s no secret that many of us are now looking for best ways to step up our political lives. New organizations and events are springing up because people are asking “What can we do?”

The League of Women Voters, proudly politically nonpartisan, has been active for nearly a century encouraging citizen participation in government. An easy way is simply to attend “listening sessions” and local government meetings (or watch them online.) Follow the issues that matter most to you.

Local Advocacy Works

Transparency in government is a League passion. Recently, we challenged Fort Collins City Council for its lack of transparency when it failed to inform residents that it was holding discussions and planning to begin negotiations with Northern Colorado Water on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). This seeming change in the City’s position on NISP triggered a firestorm of speculation about motives and goals, and rattled some residents’ confidence in City government.

We are pleased to report that when we brought this to the attention of Council, Council members responded by committing to hold public meetings to explain their thinking and actions about NISP before moving forward with negotiations. We encourage all citizens with an interest in the Poudre River, water supply and the financial and environmental costs of building huge reservoirs to attend these meetings.

This incident shows you can make a difference by speaking out to your elected officials. Although you and they may not agree on an issue, you are educating them on your views just as you are educating yourself on their views. This is a more purposeful strategy than conjecture, assumptions and mud-slinging.

The League’s mantra is a message for our times: “Making Democracy Work For All” — in Washington, D.C., in Denver and here at home. Our century legacy carries positions to guide us in safeguarding our Constitution and our communities at all levels. Issues change, but transparency and accountability guide our watchdog role.

We suggest you choose your issues or the government body that most interests you, and from that perspective, commit to being an informed and involved citizen.

Written By: Sarah Pitts, Spokesperson, and Sonia Koetting, PR Team Member, League of Women Voters of Larimer County. This post was originally submitted to The Coloradoan Opinion Page

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