5 Things To Do at Your First City Council Meeting

5 Things To Do at Your First City Council Meeting

Sacramento is the capital of California, and as such, is the epicenter of an ongoing conversation revolving around policy, business development, lifestyle, community engagement, and ordinance adoption. That’s not all. According to the California Department of Finance, our State Capitol is in the midst of a massive economic surge - with growth accelerating at 1.43% from 2018, our city’s population has bolstered to more than 500,000 for the first time ever. This growth will inevitably garner new and exciting challenges that will require our unique perspectives and experiences to solve collectively.

As a young professional making your career and life here, you are in a unique position in Sacramento’s history to engage in the democratic process that will influence policy and change around the issues of which you are most passionate for years to come. Decisions surrounding land use, policy, and budgeting are all at stake. It’s time to shape Sacramento’s future! With this abundance of legislative and public policy activity taking place right outside our door, it can be difficult and overwhelming to understand how exactly to get started in making your voice heard. One of the best places you can begin your journey is within the chambers of City Hall.

Our City Council has been in place, effectively serving Sacramento since 1920. The Council consists of a Mayor, elected by all city voters, and eight Council Members, elected to represent each of the city’s districts. Each Council Member is required to live in the district they represent. The Mayor and Council Members serve four-year terms. Here are 5 important things to expect at your first City Council meeting:

1 - Review the agenda beforehand to understand the items being discussed

Before every Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the agenda is published on the prior Thursday. Take a moment to look over the agenda and the list of items, and take notes on any areas of particular interest. You also have the opportunity to leave any comments and review archived committee meetings.

2 - Find your Council Member

Before attending, you’ll want to know which Council Member represents your district’s specific interests. To do so, simply enter your address here. Once you know your representative, do your research! Visit their website, follow them on social media to grasp their ideology and legislative priorities, and consider emailing them to introduce yourself. When you attend City Council meetings, take notes on any comments made by your public official - allowing you to hold them accountable or express your support later.

3 - Network with community stakeholders

Keep your eyes and ears open when you attend City Council. Your fellow attendees are likely highly engaged community stakeholders with long-tenured, vested business/personal interests in the city’s economic and social landscapes. Network with your community members and gather an understanding of the nature of their positions, and why they care about the issues being presented. You never know who you will come in contact with by remaining open to new perspectives, and striving to understand business challenges.

4 - Make a public comment

In reviewing the agenda, note any time scheduled for “public comments.” This time can be utilized to discuss a particular item on the agenda, or to express an opinion for the Council to address in the future. While this may seem daunting, uphold the confidence to speak on behalf of your city among your fellow residents. Exercise your freedom of speech, while taking care not to disrupt the professional order of the Council.

5 - Follow the legislative process and take initiative in your community

Once you’ve established yourself as a City Council regular (whether by attending meetings in-person, or keeping up-to-date via the archived video meetings) you will find it advantageous to attend various community events sponsored by each of the elected officials. These events represent great opportunities to further establish connections among your fellow involved and policy-oriented community members, while taking advantage of the abundance of organizational partnerships.

Want to attend a City Council meeting with fellow EDGErs or other community events that shape Sacramento’s future? Contact your Empower Committee Chair, Amanda, at empower.metroedge@gmail.com.

City of Sacramento City Council 2019 Calendar

Sacramento City Hall
915 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

This is a guest blog post by Andrew Shannon, member of the Communications Committee. Andrew is a Bay Area native and currently serves as an Associate at Goodwin Consulting Group. Outside of his career and studies, he is an avid photographer, writer, hiker, Bay Area sports fan, and concert-goer.