League of Kansas Municipalities Holds Annual Conference in Wichita, Kan.
On October 8 & 9, 2011, the League of Kansas Municipalities held its annual conference in Wichita, Kan. Those that attended the conference included mayors, commissioners, and city managers.
The Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy's (ICDD) director, David Procter and facilitation associate, Dan Kahl, had the opportunity to present to the League of Kansas Municipalities. Their presentation, "Engaging the Public in Important Issues," was designed to emphasize that citizens are a city's most important resource. The presentation covered the benefits of engaging citizens, groups, and organizations through conversation and public involvement. Several of the benefits mentioned included building greater trust of local government among citizens and generating new ideas for effectively addressing public issues.
"I think it is important that elected officials understand the importance of public engagement in relation to the expectations of them as civic leaders," Kahl said, "It is also important for them to consider how to best engage the public to ensure productive participation."
It is crucial for the League of Kansas Municipalities to continue to hold conferences like this in order for civic leaders to consider important topics with their peers. The conference provided opportunity for conversation and learning, and a chance for elected leaders to learn from one another.
"Public officials need to engage citizens early and engage them in a meaningful way," Procter said. "They shouldn't wait until public decisions are already made and then engage the public to 'sell' them on the decision."
The conference was beneficial for elected leaders and encouraged them to consider when it is important to engage citizens and how to organize their involvement. In addition, they were challenged to create a productive and satisfactory public experience.
"The challenges facing communities across the state are often daunting and complicated," Kahl said, "Having an opportunity to listen and dialogue about these challenges helps us, as KSU Engagement staff, to better understand the depth of the issues, and assist with connecting KSU resources to community development needs."