Representative democracy hinges on representatives keeping in close contact with citizens. At the same time, taxpayers expect their elected officials to spend their money wisely. As the county legislative representative for Grand Island, the City of Tonawanda and much of the Town of Tonawanda, I am ever mindful of this.
Sometimes staying in touch with constituents and efficiency seem to be in direct conflict. Such was the case with the decision I faced regarding a district office. Previous county legislators paid thousands of dollars to maintain a separate office in the district in addition to the one they had downtown next to the legislative chambers. I had never seen a line coming out of any county legislator’s district office and could not justify the expense of leased space, copiers, additional phone and fax lines, and other utilities that would be required for a second office. So I chose to save taxpayers a few dollars and never opened one. If I had to regularly travel to Washington or Albany, my decision might have been different. But I live and work right here and can visit people in their homes when necessary.
Another way I try to keep in touch is through outreach events. This involves scheduling times when I will be available to meet people in a library, senior center or some other public setting. No appointments are necessary for these one-on-one meetings. The next ones are scheduled for Wednesday, August 22nd from 10 am – Noon at the Grand Island Public Library and Friday, August 24th from 2-4 pm at the City of Tonawanda Public Library. This fall, I will also resume my popular series of “District Discussions” where I invite citizens to sit around a table and discuss county issues with me. I am sure there will be plenty to talk about since the 2013 county budget and the Buffalo Bill’s lease will both be on the front burner. If you would like to be invited to one of these sessions, please contact me.
Recently, I have also been distributing my “County Legislative Report” to constituents. The difference between this report and others you may have received is that mine does not contain fancy artwork or photos. This is because it is not produced at taxpayer expense. Instead, I print it off from my home computer and I distribute it by walking door-to-door. I have been to hundreds of doors in the last couple weeks, but there are thousands more to visit. If I am unable to get to yours and you’d like a copy of the newsletter, contact me and I’ll make sure you get one.
If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted by phone at 858-8672 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.