What’s Next Alexandria began with a community poll on civic engagement and continued last night with a meeting to discuss the results of that poll and begin developing principles and a process for improving civic engagement.
“This is not a public hearing and not the time to discuss past grievances,” said Act for Alexandria Executive Director John Porter who served as last night’s Master of Ceremonies. “It is a time to begin a dialogue among members of the community, City staff and appointed and elected officials about how to improve civic engagement.”
The 165 attendees, most of whom were community activists, staff and political leaders, reviewed the results of the poll. Approximately 1640 people responded to the poll either online or on paper. Spanish forms were available.
More than 85% of those who responded to the survey said they were between the ages of 26 and 65. 11.1% or 182 people said they were between the ages of 66 and 75. Only 28 respondents said they were between 18 and 25 and 41 respondents said they were older than 76.
In response to a question about where people get information about Alexandria, 1309 said the City’s website; 1200 said from friends and neighbors and 1196 said from online or print newspapers. As to how people participate in the public decision making process, 1273 said by voting in elections; 623 said by attending civic, neighborhood, homeowners or tenants association meetings; 526 said by attending city-sponsored community meetings on planning and 426 said by providing comments to the city about a proposed public action.
When asked why respondents do not attend city held community meetings, 698 respondents said lack of time; 359 said lack of awareness of these meetings; 292 said they prefer to participate in other ways and 198 said the meeting topics are not relevant to them.
What are the key topics respondents would like to discuss as part of the What’s Next process: 1095 said development and redevelopment; 998 said traffic management; 949 said Alexandria City Public Schools enrollment trends and budget; 948 said finances and budget; 864 said infrastructure maintenance and construction; 841 said environmental quality and 826 said open space, trails and recreation.
“Our goal is to offer people as many different ways to participate in this process as possible,” said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. “Everyone’s input is important and it will be included as we move forward.”
This process will continue for the next six months. Community comments and meeting materials will be posted on the What’s Next Alexandria webpage.