Letter to the Editor: Why doesn't the city council reach out to citizens?

Friday, December 21, 2018

To the Editor:

I'm really counting on the people of Shoreline to take action in the city council elections in 2019. The deadline to apply to run is January 3rd and I'm honestly scared and nervous.

I am 16 years old. I can't vote. I often feel like I don't have a say in politics, especially local ones. I would think that it would be the opposite, but honestly, I don't even know what's going on with the city council half the time. My mom is eligible to vote, but she doesn't know anything either. It's like half the time, they're in their little bubble and don't reach out to the community - at least, not the community that they know haven't been involved before.

This is so frustrating. I've been so frustrated with how politicians and elected officials only reach out to those they know will vote for them. They ignore the rest of their constituents. Newsflash: even if someone didn't vote for you, you still represent them. Where are the townhalls? Where are the open invitations to everyone so that our representatives can hear what we want to say? Why are they not inviting young people to the conversation?

This is another thing I have a problem with. I'd consider myself to be a fairly civically active teenager, especially in comparison to others in my age group, but in my years of schooling in Shoreline, I have never had a city councilmember reach out to me or my school to ask what we want. Their actions greatly effect us and our future. If anything, they should be relying on our fresh knowledge of the world in order to expand their point of view.

In 2019, I want to see candidates that actively reach out to underrepresented people in our community. I want to see less campaigning in Innis Arden and more campaigning in Parkwood and Echo Lake. I want to see more passionate young people running who want to fight for our future - for my future. I want a politician to personally knock on the door of my parent's restaurant and ask if they're registered to vote and if they'd like to talk about issues and have a genuine conversation.

I know this is longer than 300 words, but I hope you'll hear me out. I love the city that I grew up in and the city that I call my home, but I can't bear to see the same type of people stepping up to the plate that is Shoreline City Council. Change must come.

Nara Kim


Anonymous,  December 22, 2018 at 8:04 AM  

Excellent writing, Nara. The current misunderstanding about what our residents need in an aquatic center is an example of what you're talking about. There was little outreach to the community and youth. Now we are fighting the city to have them redraw the pitiful plan they dreamed up without proper input.

Beckster December 22, 2018 at 8:12 AM  

Hey Nara!

I LOVE that you are so civically engaged at your age! You truly give me hope for the future. I have a couple ideas:

* you could go to a couple City Council meetings and see for yourself how it works. there is always time at the end for public comments
* you could reach out to the councilmembers via email and phone
* once we know who is running in 2019, you could reach out to their campaigns and invite them to drop by the restaurant at a specific time to meet with your parents and loyal customers. I have found politicians to be thrilled to be invited to meet people.
* you could volunteer for a campaign
* you could reach out to the campaigns and see when town halls or debates are going to happen - and then go and ask questions.

I find politics super fun and a great way to spend time. - I'm happy to connect more, if you like. Kate Beck

Anonymous,  December 22, 2018 at 4:45 PM  

I totally understand her frustration! I have had politicians show up at my door (Ridgecrest - Ruth Kagi and Jesse Solomon) once each before they were elected. City Council meetings are on Monday evening - I get off work at 5:30, have to take a bus home, which is about an hour or more on a good commute, feed the family, walk the dog,homework (fill in the blank for your own family). No way I can make the meeting. Saturday - or Sunday would work better for me to be able to attend. I have to say - if the SAN didn't exist I would be clueless about what was going on around here -

Lisa Surowiec,  December 23, 2018 at 8:39 AM  

I second what Kate said. I have never had a Councilmember turn me down for a coffee meeting request; they are nearly always appreciative of the outreach (even when they might not like my topic).

Speaking as someone who tried very hard to organize monthly evening meetings for our part of the community only to have a couple of neighbors show up each time, I completely understand why they would target meetings and events that give them access to more citizens at once. There is always a rep at the Council of Neighborhoods meeting, which is a smaller and less formal setting to hear from them than a City Council meeting, and is another opportunity to get the scoop.

Another suggestion to tag onto Kate's list: start a club at Shorewood for like-minded students, and invite Councilmembers to talk to you there. That ensures them an enthusiastic audience and you some face time with local leaders. As much as I adore teenagers (and I really truly do), it is hard enough to get kids to complete 40 hours of community service over 4 years, let alone present ideas to City Council. Meet them halfway...

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