Today I’m going to share with you the five most common mistakes people make when trying to establish good governance in their communities.

Mistake 1 they don’t speak in public meetings – if your elected representatives don’t know what matters to you, and if you don’t make sure it’s all there in living color, they can’t address it.

Mistake 2 they don’t bring enough people – one citizen’s complaint is a matter for management, not the board. If it’s a big issue there needs to be a considerable number of people talking about it for it to rise to the attention of the board.

Mistake 3 they don’t make their case in writing before the meeting. Just as speaking in public creates a record, so does written correspondence. The more unique correspondence from different people, the more attention the issue will receive.

Mistake 4 they aren’t nice about it. Council members are human. They respond better to considerate and respectful treatment. Don’t dilute or negate your message by annoying them.

Mistake 5 they don’t follow up. Often boards will ask staff to take care of something, and even write something into law. Then it’s forgotten or ignored. If something matters to you, don’t stop when they say they’ll do something. Follow up to be sure it’s done, over and over again.

Knowing these common mistakes and how to avoid them will surely change the way you interact with city hall, but it’s not enough.

Not only do you have to know what NOT to do, but you also have to keep at it to get real change.

After all, if beating city hall were that easy, no one would say you can’t do it!