An Open Letter to the Citizens of Nacogdoches - We really do listen
An Open Letter to the Citizens of Nacogdoches -
We really do listen.
Local municipalities are successful when we gain valuable feedback from citizens.
As problem solvers, it is imperative for elected officials and city staff to ensure we are keeping the lines of communication open between City Hall and our constituents. This is an important aspect of government outlined by our City Council.
Our newly elected council member Amelia Fischer, reelected members Garth Heinz and Mayor Shelley Brophy, and our other council members Roy Boldon and Jay Anderson are eager to serve the community and communicate with anyone with a question or concern.
We, as City staff, are thankful for City Council’s support and efforts in keeping the lines of communication open and the excitement they have for the future of Nacogdoches. It is truly an exciting time.
Due to this, it is important to highlight the ever-growing list of efforts made by elected officials and staff to ensure open communication and transparency with the public. Without public input, effectiveness is limited.
I recognize citizens are regularly searching for answers to questions about the effectiveness, decision making, and improvements made at the local level and I’m refreshed and thrilled to see progress and openness from our government.
In the past several years, this two-way conversation has been expedited by easier access via social media, the open forum during City Council meetings since 2016, and streamlined communication with the public and city employees via email newsletters, social media, podcasts, updated website information, a #cityofnac blog, and increased internal communication via weekly employee newsletters throughout the organization.
The City is Nacogdoches utilizes these diverse media platforms to present timely information to citizens and to help answer questions daily.
For example, on average the NacChat podcast has 184 listens per episode with topics ranging from water quality, economic development, and fun events. The City of Nacogdoches – Local Government Facebook page has 6,541 page likes and gains 50-60 new followers each month. In the last month, our posts reached over 30,000 unique individuals and we “engaged” with over 16,000 in the forms of messages, comments, shares, and meaningful conversations about city happenings. These followers are made up largely of taxpayers and those within the surrounding community who do business in Nacogdoches frequently.
Additionally, the City of Nacogdoches’ Instagram page reaches a younger audience by touting the quality of life in Nacogdoches with over 1,000 followers and truly showcases the beauty of our community.
For those who prefer face to face communication, the open forum at City Council meetings is always available. Since 2016, over 45 public comments have been made before public meetings. Additionally, public comment is available at the conclusion of each agenda item – allowing the public to choose to comment on an agenda specific topic or address the council as a whole on other issues prior to the meeting.
Although the Open Meetings Act doesn’t allow for elected officials to comment or discuss topics presented before the meeting, staff is empowered to listen and assist in solving the problem quickly to ensure the speaker sees a quick “return on their investment.” Oftentimes staff is assigned to figuring out the problem or answering a question posed in the public comment, before the meeting is even over.
With the increase of storytelling about our city departments and the little-known services they provide, the public not only has a greater understanding of what the City of Nacogdoches does each day, but also feels empowered to respond to these stories with, praise, questions, and of course, concerns.
This type of reach has formulated a culture of positivity and community involvement at all levels. Although not perfect, I’m confident we are more successful in not only telling our story but with customer satisfaction on an increased level throughout the community.
It is my hope that we continue this trend and continue to highlight the ever-growing list of ways to communicate with city staff and elected officials. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at 936-559-2573 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Mehaffey began her work with the City of Nacogdoches in July 2015. Prior to this, she worked as a 4-H Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. In this role she did marketing and promotion for the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program and served as the event coordinator for Texas 4-H Roundup, the agency’s largest event. Amy
in May 2015 with her PhD in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Sciences with an emphasis in youth development. During the pursuit of this degree she also received a certificate in Prevention Science and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Bush School of Government and Public Service. Previously, she completed a Master’s of Science in Agricultural Communications at Texas A&M University and a Bachelor’s of Science in the same field at Texas Tech University. Amy is also a freelance photographer and enjoys Texas A&M football in the fall. She is married to John Michael Mehaffey who is a professor of Animal Science at Stephen F. Austin State University. They are proud parents to Hattie Mae Mehaffey, born September 1, 2016 and Hunter Leigh Mehaffey born July 2018.