To strength local government’s ability to respond efficiently and effectively to county residents, the Institute encourages voter participation in local government. The GrassRoots Institute recognizes the importance of strong democratic institutions as critical to the health and well-being of communities. The institute is strictly non-partisan and does not endorse candidates in elections.
Alarmed that a lack of candidates resulted in no City Council election in 2020, an Institute workgroup formed to raise public awareness and encourage a robust field of candidates in 2022.
One strategy adopted early was to write “Letters to the Editor” of the local media. These letters explored issues such as water and energy security, affordable housing, climate action, sea level rise, city governance, and proposed land use developments.
Members of the Institute also visited local businesses to raise their awareness about the importance of the upcoming election.
In June 2022, the Institute sponsored a public forum where former Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner and Supervisor Dan Gjerde discussed serving on the Council and answered questions about being a candidate.
In July 2022, the nomination period opened to fill four seats on the Fort Bragg City Council. Eventually, a total of 10 candidates successfully met the nomination filing requirements. Additionally, an 11th candidate later filed as a write in candidate.
To ensure Fort Bragg voters were informed about the candidates, the Institute offered all 11 candidates an opportunity to participate in video interviews.
Eight candidates opted to be interviewed. The interviews were designed by the Institute to give candidates an opportunity to share views on the challenges confronting the City and how they intended to respond to those challenges.
When completed the interviews were posted on the internet and shared with the media. They provide unfiltered information about the candidates and their vision for the City’s future.
Additionally, tapping its educational and research resources the institute distributed information to the public and candidates about climate change, water security and proposed land use developments. Dissemination of this research helped inform voters about the importance of their voice in local government.
The GrassRoots Institute is proud to have helped ensure a robust 2022 Fort Bragg City Council election with a deep field of candidates. Further, we look forward to future efforts to raise public awareness and encourage qualified responsive leadership at all levels of government.
If you are interested in strengthening local democracy, check out the Institute’s Candidates & Elections Workgroup web site. Use the sign up form on our web page to let the Institute know if you would like to support or participate in future efforts.
Written by: Peter McNamee