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Hopefully this is common sense to you, but in my experience with the city council, usually only one candidate (two at most) actually attends meetings. Keep in mind, you don’t need to speak at the meetings (I never did), but there are many reasons to go besides that. Now obviously in modern times in most cities for most public meetings, you can find the audio of the minutes for every meeting online, as well as read notes or transcripts, and get an overview from your local paper/radio station. With that being said, that is what every single person claims they do when they are running but don’t go to the meetings. Based off of their lack of depth of knowledge on the issues I doubt this every time I hear it.
In the following paragraphs I will give you three more reasons why you should attend as many meetings as possible while running:
1. The most obvious, you truly get a better understanding of the issues and how each meeting works. Most people don’t understand meeting rules, and they don’t understand the issues at hand. Going to the meetings helps you get the experience necessary to really understand what you’re talking about and helps prevent you from sounding like this
2. Before and after the meetings you get direct access to key people you will need to know and learn from (e.g other elected members, city staff, contractors, prominent citizens). Most of the relationships I have now started while I was running, when I would go up to someone before or after a meeting and say “Hey, I wanted to introduce myself to you, I’m Matt Bechtel and I’m running for city council in Ward 4”. Most conversations will probably be quick, but if you give a business card or leave an invitation for them to contact you with questions or concerns, you will get a few relationships you can expand on.
3. Your opposition can’t use it against you if you’re not there. This is especially important if you’re facing an incumbent. You really will look bad if you’re running against someone and they’re at every meeting and you are nowhere to be found. Not only do citizens know it, but the city staff will notice it, as well the other elected members. I don’t want to have to say this, but honestly, if you think the meetings are too boring or a waste of time, you probably shouldn’t be running for that position.

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