Using Technology to Promote Civic Engagement
Last month, dozens of local residents clambered into a virtual auditorium to ask me questions about the community, legislation, and even a few of my personal interests and perspectives. The event, billed as a “No-Traffic Town-Hall Chat,” inspired participation from residents throughout the district. I answered 27 questions during the one-hour event, or about one question every two minutes.
Topics ranged from local issues such as opening carpool lanes on the 210 Freeway and local government liability for dog parks in Glendale and the Foothills communities to national and international issues, such as reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act and addressing air pollution. One of the most talked about topics of the night was the environment, including preserving parks and green spaces, reversing climate change and investing in sustainable fuels.
The event was not without some humor with one participant asking me what my favorite children’s book was. Another participant noted the gridlock in modern Sacramento, asking, “Are any Democrats and Republicans friends in Sacramento?”
I believe in being as accessible as possible. The Internet allows modern town hall meetings to be available to everyone, including those who have work or childcare obligations that make it difficult to attend a traditional town hall. And holding an online town hall allows people to interact from the comfort and convenience of their home.
I am excited to have held an online town hall and I am already planning future town hall meetings in the coming months, both in person and online, including a traditional in-person town hall meeting this fall. I hope you’ll join me. But until then, feel free to contact my district office at (818) 558-3043.
As for the question of who gets along in Sacramento, I believe in trying to get along with everyone because the only way to get things done is to treat each other as human beings.
Mike Gatto is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto