How to work productively with your city council representative

Reaching out to City Councilmembers is one of the best ways to communicate ideas and issues to people that represent the community. While it can sometimes seem difficult to weave your way through the engine of bureaucracy, there are several productive, effective ways to make contact. 

Before reaching out, make sure you are ready to present your issue in such a way that it can be addressed. Provide succinct information – photographs, facts and examples. Focus on the problem and gather as much information as you can to help get the problem solved. Be professional and courteous; avoid approaching your council representative with a confrontational attitude. 

Below is a compilation of suggestions that should make the communication process easier. If you try one method and it is not successful, try another. Don’t give up – your council representative is there to help you. 

Write, call, meet

First communicate with your City Councilmember by sending an email to [email protected] and copy your district’s councilmember, his or her executive assistant, all five at-large council members and, if the issue is something that will eventually be heard and voted on by the full Council, the entire group. Their contact information can be found at coj.net/city-council.aspx. When you send the email, include precise addresses and photos if needed. Remember, all government correspondence is considered public record and will be kept on file.

If your community has a Nextdoor profile, you may email your Councilmember with any issues, and once you receive a response, you may post that response into Nextdoor to share with other users, but social media is not the best way to communicate directly with City Councilmembers. 

Next, call your councilmember’s office. All phone numbers can be found on the City’s website, as listed above, and on their Council webpages. If you have a particularly tough issue, ask for an appointment. When you meet with them, leave copies of the information related to your issue.

A high-tech way to report city issues is to download the MyJax app for your smartphone. The added benefit to this app is that it has a GPS locator, so it will know precisely the location of the pothole, sinking sidewalk, downed tree or any other issue you are reporting.

Finally, attend City Council, Noticed or Committee meetings, which are open to the public. Meeting dates and times are listed at coj.net/city-council/events/calendar.aspx. Additionally, under Florida’s Sunshine Law, the public has the right to attend any gathering of two or more elected officials at which they will discuss a matter that may come before a committee or the Council for action.

Participate in organized neighborhood groups, such as the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC). Jacksonville’s more than 200 neighborhoods are divided into six planning districts, each with a CPAC. The primary purpose of the CPAC is to maintain open and effective communication between Jacksonville residents, businesses, neighborhoods, community organizations, educational institutions and city government. 

For more information, go to coj.net/departments/neighborhoods/neighborhood-services-office/citizen-planning-advisory-committees-(cpacs).


By Kandace Lankford
Resident Community News

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