Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi regularly hears from constituents who want to help shape the future of our community, but may not know how to start. He put together a list of ways for people to get involved and influence public policy decisions on issues such as transportation and infrastructure, education and public safety. Whether you want to see more funding for animal welfare or a lower tax rate, it all starts with becoming more engaged in the local political process.
Citizen Time: Citizens may speak for three minutes at the beginning of all Board meetings. Speakers are asked to introduce themselves and state the Magisterial District they live in. Remarks may address any issue not on the agenda (see below for issues on the agenda). Speakers may sign up 15 minutes prior to the start of the 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. meetings.
Public Hearings: Citizens may speak for three minutes at public hearings during Board meetings. Public hearings are scheduled to determine whether new local ordinances should be passed, repealed, and amended. Public hearings are also conducted for development applications, tax, and budget matters. Interested speakers are required to sign-in prior to the start of these meetings.
Town Halls: Citizens may attend town halls conducted by members of the Board of County Supervisors. Town halls are typically scheduled to receive citizen input and feedback on a wide range of issues. Some Supervisors also conduct Tele-Town Halls with citizens participating by phone. Check individual Supervisor websites for upcoming events.
Meet With Your Supervisor: Most Supervisors are willing to meet with individual citizens, groups, and organizations. Request a meeting with your Supervisor by calling their office and speaking with their scheduler. Meetings may take place during the day or in the evening/weekends.
E-Mail/Write/Call Your Supervisor: Supervisors receive thousands of emails and private letters annually on a wide range of issues. This correspondence is an opportunity to introduce yourself, why the issue is important to you, and a possible solution. Correspondence should be short and to the point given the volume of mail received.
Social Media: Citizens may influence public policy by following and messaging their Supervisor through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. They can also engage with Supervisors by liking, sharing and commenting on posts. Blogging is also an effective measure to influence public policy when substantive information can be provided.
Letters to the Editor: Writing a letter to your local newspaper is a great way to grab the attention of your Supervisor and the community. The opinion page is one of the most highly trafficked sections of a newspaper and even if your letter is not published, editors pay attention.
Civic Associations: Citizens can influence public policy when they join civic associations in their community. These associations typically meet monthly, invite government staff to brief them, and build cases for and against policy over time. In this area, consider joining the Woodbridge Civic Association, MidCo (mid-County), and LOCA-Pelt (Lake Ridge). Membership is free and open to area citizens.
Woodbridge/County Political Party Committees: Your regular attendance at these group meetings are the most effective means of getting informed and making a difference in your community. Contact the party chairmen in advance of meetings to request that your policy is discussed on the next agenda. Membership in these groups have a small annual fee to defray advocacy efforts.
Run For Elected Office: The most effective way to influence public policy is to run, and win, elected office. All 8 members of the Board are up for reelection at the same time (November 2019). Running for elected office typically requires that you file the necessary paperwork, pay filing fees, raise money, knock on doors, and do a significant amount of work to understand a wide range of public policy.