The Denial of Voter Intelligence
Tucker is a very rich community especially in terms of the talent, expertise and generosity of our residents. It is a community that thirsts for information and engagement - a wonderful combination! Taking a look at District One with its very diverse demographics, income, lifestyles and housing, it is a treasure trove that is available to our young city to tap when subject matter expertise or experience would help in city decision making. I am sure the same is also true in Districts Two and Three.
To give an example, a couple of years ago, I did a study* of the Smoke Rise part of District One for a newspaper article that I was writing. It was interesting to find that 49% of the household’s residents held one or more business licenses. Some of these are home based businesses but most are not. Some of these are major employers and many with businesses located in Tucker. The largest group, nearly half, were in some way connected with the medical profession followed by finance, then legal, IT and engineering as the major employment fields.
There is no way that our council members would be expected to have expertise and experience in all the fields that could impact decision making. Their research, while well intended, would probably not replace or compare to the information and expertise that we have in the community. Collaboratively, it is easy to imagine the information, thoughts and ideas that could be put together quickly.
Why would we not tap the brain trust available to us rather than trying to develop quick expertise? I envision bringing together groups of engineers who have expertise in waste systems when we need to consider handing of sewage; those in the medical community to help us understand what it will take to draw the medical community to Tucker. Mini single issue think tanks of experts to meet, share and help in the city. The list goes on as to the experts in our backyard who could have great input to the future of Tucker and the decisions to be made.
On the Internet, it might be called “crowd sourcing” and on line tools could certainly be used for information, sourcing and collaboration. Facts are easy to find, expertise to bring the right facts together for decision making is right in our back yard. Rather than having Council members vote on what they think is in the best interests of our communities and giving little value to their input, let’s do a 180 and rather than looking to hire outside “experts” who do not know or understand our community, let’s source from our own first and augment with those we can hire.
It is critical that the council not deny the intelligence of our voters by speaking about issues and infrastructure in what can be interpreted as a condescending tone to groups that have more collective experience and expertise than any one elected person could ever dream of accumulating to make the decisions of the city.
*Sources of information for demographics were primarily ESRI data than can be segmented by a map.