Citizen Engagement: More than casting the vote

by Feihu Li, Hubert Humphrey Fellow & Global Integrity Intern

"I'm here because we share the same agenda, we want more citizen engagement," said Ms. Elissa Silverman, a current at-large candidate for DC City Council, when she gave a presentation at the OpenGov Hub's traditional Brown Bag Lunch time on Tuesday.
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Silverman's presentation focused on budget, open data and technology issues in the DC city government. The former reporter for the Washington Post expressed her desire to, "promote transparency and citizen participation in DC City Hall," through new technology. "We have tried to use technology to get people involved, and we need to do more," Silverman said to an audience representing five of the fifteen non-profit organizations working on the open government agenda at the OpenGov Hub. As an example to encourage citizen engagement and access, Silverman suggested that citizens be allowed to testify by Skype or Facetime.

One of the reasons Silverman is running for the DC City Council is that two former council members resigned last year after being charged and under investigation; one for bank fraud, the other for embezzlement. For Silverman, the importance of open government, of transparency and accountability is paramount. The public can be part of the agenda not only by putting the right people in the right place through voting,  but also by striving for and contributing to open information.

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