It has been a little over a year since I decided against opening a separate district office. I cannot ever remember a line coming out of a legislator’s office, and I reasoned I could consolidate operations in my County Hall office and save taxpayers the expense of a lease, utilities, copier, fax machine and other costs associated with an underused office in the district. The $ 10,000 or so that I saved taxpayers may not sound like much in a county budget of more than $ 1 billion, but I felt that every little bit counts.
In a year in which painful cuts were needed, I also wanted to lead by example. Taxpayers seem to appreciate this.
Despite the absence of a rented office in the district, communication with constituents has not suffered. I have made many house calls and have had numerous outreach sessions at local senior centers, libraries and other municipal buildings. At these important sessions, I have met people one on one to discuss their concerns and solve their problems. Recently, I added a new element to my outreach efforts. I invited small groups of people who had contacted me with their concerns regarding the county budget to informal meetings. The meetings were held in the community rooms of local libraries where 10 or 12 of us sat around a table and talked for an hour and a half about the budget, taxes, the future of the libraries and whatever else was on people’s minds. The experiment was a tremendous success, as we had some great discussions. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to understand the concerns of my constituents, and it gave them a better sense of what I was doing to address these important issues.
In the coming months, I plan to have several more of these “ District Discussions” on Saturday mornings. I will be inviting citizens from throughout Grand Island and the Tonawandas to participate. As in the earlier sessions, the meetings will be small, informal and limited to 90 minutes, although I will stay longer if people want to continue.
If you live in the 10th Legislative District and would like to be invited to one of these meetings or if you just have a complaint or concern about county government, please do not hesitate to call me at 873- 3438. You can also write me at Erie County Legislature, 92 Franklin St., 4th Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202 or e- mail me at Kevin.Hardwick@erie.gov.
My legislative aide, Susan Gregg, and I will also be scheduling more office hours at libraries, community centers and municipal buildings throughout the district. By communicating openly and working together, we can make Erie County an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
(Printed February 9, 2011 in the Ken-Ton Bee Newspaper)