Fielding questions and reviewing feedback from constituents is just part of a day’s work for an elected official, but members of the Carmel City Council hope a new initiative will make it simpler and more transparent.
The council launched the website Let’s Talk, Carmel! in October. It features answers from city councilors to some of the questions they hear most frequently and aims to dispel misinformation.
“If you get on social media, you will see people make statements that seem to be factual but really are not at all,” Carmel City Councilor Jeff Worrell said. “What we’re trying to do is get into the public domain the city council’s position that is based on the information that we had when we made our decision.”
Worrell and councilor Sue Finkam came up with the idea for the website approximately two years ago. Each week they meet to discuss which questions and answers to add to the site.
“Right now there are more questions than we can deal with,” Worrell said.
Once they select a question to answer, all city councilors are given the option to help write a response. They can respond as a group or individually to offer a different opinion.
Worrell said the questions come from constituent feedback, social media postings and through the site itself. The site does not allow for comments or discussion of the council’s answers.
“There are lots of (other) places to debate and voice your opinion,” Worrell said, adding that the site’s mission is to provide factual information from the people elected to make decisions.
Worrell said the site could cease to exist if future councils don’t feel the website is worthwhile, so he’s hoping the current council can firmly establish it as a helpful resource. He said the site has received positive feedback and generated good questions from Carmel residents in its first weeks.
The councilors are not aware of any other elected body using a similar platform.
“This is something unique that other councils could potentially copy and use as a communication tool with their constituents,” Worrell said.
Visit the site at letstalkcarmel.com.