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Survey: Only 26 percent of residents know their councilperson, council asks for input

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The South Bend Common Council is asking for input on community outreach on their council Facebook page.

Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston said only 26 percent of residents surveyed knew who their district representative was. At the time this story was written, the number of people surveyed was unknown.

“Only 26 percent of the people that were surveyed even know who their city council person is,” said District 2 Councilwoman Regina Williams-Preston.

Williams-Preston said the council has been getting out more in the community and listening to residents. She said the percent shared with the council was striking to her.

“The optimist in me might say that this means three-fourths of South Bend thinks that everything’s great,” said Scott Palmer, with Neighborhood Resources Center. “They don’t need to know who their councilperson is, but we also know that’s not necessarily true.”

The NRC’s mission is to help neighbors build better neighborhoods. The organization hosts classes on tax credits, city budgets, and city government 101, in order to spark civic engagement within the community.

However, Palmer said being involved in every city issue takes up a lot of time. He said the 26 percent may or may not be representative of what’s going on in resident’s lives.

“A lot of people are just busy and they may not have time to be engaged,” he said. “But what really motivates people to be engaged is when something comes up.”

 Reynaldo Hernandez was out protesting issues like gun violence in downtown South Bend on Monday. He said he knows his councilperson is Williams-Preston and getting in touch with elected officials is easy.

“311 can give you emails and telephone numbers, where you can leave messages,” said Hernandez.

Palmer said knowing which councilperson represents which district is important. Click here to find out who your councilperson is. 

“Knowing who the person is representing you, what they think, what their priorities are and do they align with what you want for your neighborhood, for your city that’s important,” he said.

District 1 Councilman Tim Scott said the council will be briefed on the data at the next council committee meeting. He said city interns have been posting more on Common Council Facebook page  and the council members have been having more meetings with residents.

“Getting together with neighbors and asking you, ‘Hey, how do you feel about this, how do we feel about this,’” Palmer said. “Just having that collective energy really makes from a lot more positive outcomes than just being individuals.”

Click here to take a survey that asks the following:

  • Who is your common councilperson?
  • In the past 1 or 2 years, how many meetings have you attended?
  • How do you keep up with Common Council meetings?
  • How do you keep up with the Common Council?
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