On Monday, June 10, ACHD had the opportunity to attend “A Conversation with Gavin Newsom,” presented by the Hornets Policy & Political Alumni Association of Sacramento State University.
The speakers included:
- Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California
- Pam O’Connor, Mayor of Santa Monica
- Abhi Nemani , Chief of Staff , Code for America
- Steve Hansen, Sacramento City Councilmember
The event focused on how local governments can use technology and social media to facilitate new kinds of civic engagement between elected officials and the constituents they serve.
The event began with an introduction to Lt. Governor Newsom’s book, Citizenville, which explores the intersection of democracy and technology in this hyper-connected world. To illustrate why government innovation and reform is so critical in our world today, the Lt. Governor referenced three major industries that have had to completely change the way they do business because of technology: the media, the music industry, and stock brokers.
In the industry of government, groups of individuals forming self-organized communities are changing the way business is done. According to the Lt. Governor, the “broadcast model” of government (telling the public what is best for them) is over and a two-way conversation model between government and the people is what is demanded. The question now becomes, “how do we keep the voices of the people turned up?” People must be made co-creators instead of relying on the old political machine to decide policy. We’re a generation of choice because of technology and now must use it to facilitate interaction with the public in an immediate and effective basis to fulfill their needs.
The topic then moved to civil engagement with Mayor O’Connor remarking that local government is about delivering services. Collecting and using data is the best way to ensure that limited local government resources are being used to deliver the services the public needs the most. In her city of Santa Monica, the focus is on the concept of well-being, using a “report card” model to gather data on public opinion and rate how the city is doing. Using that data the city looks to incorporate services to help improve the public’s health, economic, educational, and social well-being. The Mayor’s priority is keeping constituents enthusiastic to participate and making the data available to them.
All panelists agreed that to build trust, the government must meet the peoples’ expectation of engagement. Government needs to be able to respond to the voice of its citizens. Organizations like Code for America are working to gather innovators to create new threads of communication and experiment with creative problem solving. If a gap in communication between government and the public isn’t addressed, mistrust will grow and the public will believe government is unable to meet their needs.
A central mission of California’s Healthcare Districts is to provide health services to their communities. In many instances, a Healthcare District may be the only source of care in the community. When Districts engage constituents, they can create a credible and open dialogue with the public about the quality services provided and meeting the needs of the community. Through the use of social media sites, District websites, and even application development for smartphones, each constituent will feel connected to their Healthcare District. The result is an effective partnership between the District and the community.