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Tips for Newly Elected City Government Officials: Complex & Modern Challenges to Overcome

By Marisa Pangaro

First of all, congratulations on getting elected into your local government office! Becoming a city leader is no small feat, but you overcame it and won the election. Local government officials are incredibly valuable to our communities because they handle a vast range of responsibilities and make decisions to impact the quality of life for every citizen.

While newly elected officials may talk a big game to get elected, it's imperative that they follow through on any promises they make in order to achieve great things and keep the public happy. Local officials who follow through on promises are also more likely to get re-elected and continue to grow their political career since mindful and considerate government leadership benefits citizens’ quality of life.

Joining a local government office as a newly elected official can feel overwhelming with so much to learn, constituent expectations, and challenges to overcome. You deserve a strong start to your city leadership position, which requires knowledge on how to get started in your political office and improve government services and workflows to benefit citizens. 

In this guide, you’ll come to recognize key components of getting started as a city leader, the types of innovations you should prioritize, and how to use government software to collect and analyze important data for your department. 

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What Are You Getting Into As An Elected Official?

You just got the position, but what should you expect out of this local government leadership role? 

Elected officials like city administrators are responsible for all of the most vital aspects of life in their communities, including providing impactful government services and ensuring the safety of the citizens. Make sure your valuable time is well spent, and dedicated to improving the well-being of all citizens.  

Protect Citizens And Make Their Lives Better

Protecting citizens and improving their quality of life should always be the highest priority for leaders in every local government department. Your municipality has direct ties to citizens every-day lives, which means you need to focus on being time efficient, organized, and thoughtful. 

Exactly which responsibilities you will be tasked with is highly dependent on your official job title, which is why it is imperative you take the time to understand your job description and individual responsibilities. Ask questions to ensure you are completing the tasks correctly, especially in the beginning of your onboarding. 

Read on for more information on improving the citizen experience in your community: 

How Can You Expect To Spend Time As A Newly Elected Government Official? 

It is vital to remember that you are now a public servant. This means that you should expect to spend most of your time ensuring all of your duties and tasks are being completed to the biggest public benefit, and engaging with constituents. 

You should prepare to be contacted all hours of the day by citizens who will often be making complaints and reporting issues with complaint management software, seeking assistance, and seeking personal favors or pardons. An important part of being an elected official is being a public figure, meaning you should plan to forfeit certain aspects of your privacy and remember that anything you say or do may be recorded in the newspaper, evening news, or on the internet.

As a newly elected government official you should expect to spend significant amounts of your time:  

  • Attending city council, and other important public meetings 
  • Reviewing reports and other critical data specific to your department
  • Scheduling time to hold public meetings and communicate with constituents in-person and via your government official social media accounts.
  • Attending community functions in your official capacity a government official
  • Working with city officials that are following your direction to be efficient and productive

How To Prepare And Accelerate Onboarding Time

1. Acclimate to city workflows 

What is the work culture of your local government office? What are the workflows like in your city local government? One of the first steps to acclimating into your new role is onboarding and understanding how your department currently runs. During the onboarding process it is important that you think about how workflows could be better with automation and government technology

Municipal government software solutions are the most efficient way to streamline workflows in your government department. There are helpful software solutions for every department of your locality, designed to improve interdepartmental communication and automate tasks that waste time and money. 

2. Speak with city staff and citizens

Citizens who don't know you yet are probably wondering, “Who is my new elected official”? 

Understanding the key goals that citizens have for the community, as well as issues or complaints will allow you to more effectively make changes that benefit your constituents. Sometimes the needs of your constituents can fly under the radar of government officials due to a lack of communication between citizens and government officials. 

Ask questions directly through local public meetings or online forums to learn about services and infrastructure that may be severely lacking in the community.

Read on to learn how to Improve and Streamline Constituent Services In Your Community. 

What Are Common Issues City Politicians Need To Address While In Office? 

The data shows that many local governments face the same common issues. Let's take a look at the typical issues you'll want to address as a new politician in office:
  • Aging Physical Infrastructure Maintenance 

Most localities do not have the resources to update physical infrastructure in the community as much as they should be maintained.The most common disappointments citizens notice about their communities are outdated or unsafe physical infrastructure projects. 

Be sure to maintain common infrastructure within your locality including roads, bridges, parks, transit, water utilities, and sewage systems. 

Utilize GovPilot’s new mobile inspection app, GovInspect to streamline inspections of all physical infrastructure projects in your community. 

  • Development Of New And Improved Infrastructure 

It is important to dedicate a portion of funds from your annual government budget to create new infrastructure within your community. Adding new attractions or services to your community will increase constituent experience in your city and likely attract more visitors, generating revenue for your local government.

Consider Infrastructure Bill Grant Funds for Local Governments and how your local government can update or build new infrastructure in your city. 

Here are tips for making improvements to physical infrastructure:

Many local governments in the U.S work with outdated and inefficient computer systems that are extremely easy for hackers to target. These outdated systems are like an invitation for government cybersecurity breaches that could leave your local government non-functional for up to months at a time. 

Upgrade your local government and move away from outdated paper-based municipal workflows to more efficient automated processes through the use of the cloud. The government  cloud keeps any records, files, or documents used in your local government safe from physical and digital threats with automatic data backups. 

Learn more about the Local Government Cybersecurity Best Practices for Preventing Cyber Attacks.

  • Functionality Of Government Services

The importance of public services offered by your local government cannot be overstated; public services are often vital and sometimes even dire for citizens who rely on them. Delivering helpful and reliable government services to your constituents is important, but not always easy to manage. 

A simple way to ensure reliable functionality of government services is to focus on improving workflows in every government department. Utilize government software solutions to improve communication between departments and automate government  processes that waste time and money such as issuing permits and licenses through GovPilot’s Government Permitting Software

  • Mitigating Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are unpredictable, and often strike when it is unexpected. Be prepared before a natural disaster hits to mitigate problems caused by the weather such as damaged physical infrastructure or citizen housing and safety concerns.

Make sure to have a natural disaster safety plan in place, to keep your local government departments organized and strategic when dealing with the chaotic fallout of a natural disaster. 

Read more about disaster preparedness and How Local Governments Build Resilient Communities

Key Ways To Make Things Happen In Your Community

1. Utilize Grants From ARPA And The Infrastructure Bill

In 2021, The Biden-Harris administration passed the Infrastructure Bill, which dedicates 1 trillion dollars towards improving digital and physical infrastructure in local government departments. Start your term off strong, and apply to receive funds from the infrastructure bill that can be applied to all infrastructure improvements in your community!

2. Use Government Data Analytics 

Government data analytics make sense of collected government data in order to help city officials understand record metrics and make informed decisions about maintaining the community. Analyze government data to track progress within your local government, measure KPIs, manage budgets, and make well-informed future strategic planning decisions. 

Learn more about utilizing government data analytics through GovPilot’s Examples and Helpful Tips For Government Strategic Planning. 

3. Thoroughly Training Government Employees 

Government employees need to be adequately trained on how to navigate all the technology resources provided to them by your locality. Training for government employees should encompass all aspects of working with local government IT including how to use software, keep their networks cyber secure, and be collaborative as a team.

Follow these helpful links for more insight on How To Train Government Employees On Cyber Security Threats and How to Onboard Software for City Governments.  

4. Break Down Data Silos Across Departments 

With public sector cloud systems that grant all relevant officials access to key information in real time, there is absolutely no need for data silos to slow down operations across local government departments. Utilize the government cloud to digitally store public records, files, and documents automatically, ensuring automatic data backups will protect your data from cyber threats. 

GovPilot offers Software Solutions In Every Municipal Department to make virtual communications between departments and city leadership simple.

5. Prioritize Public Meetings, Report-A-Concern Software, & Press Releases

What community issues do your citizens want to see addressed the most? If you can’t answer that question immediately, then your local government should prioritize government and citizen communications. Public meetings are a vital aspect of city leadership that often go overlooked. These local meetings, as well as GovPilot’s new Report-A-Concern software, GovAlert, collect data on the issues that matter most to citizens. 

Once you’ve heard from your citizens and take action to address issues, be sure to release press releases regarding important news in your neighborhood. Press releases for infrastructure upgrades, budget allocation, onboarding of government technology, etc. should be commonplace. Be sure to forge media relations to get the word out there too. 

Check out the Westampton, NJ to Offer Digital Concern Reporting with GovPilot press release as an example and read the Guide to Formatting and Promoting Political & Government Press Releases for more insight.

6. Forge Relationships and Partnerships With Local Businesses 

Make sure to form relationships with local businesses in order to get things done in a timely manner, generate revenue, and make decisions that positively impact local economic development with business owners in mind. 

Private sector partnerships with municipal city officials should be encouraged/nurtured because they lead to more successful revenue generation for both parties. 

Ensure Your Local Government Services Go Above And Beyond With GovPilot

Getting started in local government can feel daunting when it comes to onboarding, learning how to do the job, and meeting expectations. But, the key to a successful start in local government leadership is putting the citizens and their needs first. Government services should be exemplary in your community and put in place to helpfully address all the needs of your constituents. Use GovPilot’s government software solutions to streamline constituent services and follow through on all promises you make to better the community. 

In task automation, storage of documentation in the cloud, and allowing constituents/businesses to file paperwork online, your local government can leverage modern communications to break barriers in ways you never could’ve imagined. 

To learn more about how government software can help, schedule a free demo.

Newly Elected Public Officials FAQs

  • What do elected officials do?

Local elected or appointed officials handle a variety of tasks including managing local government and municipal services, allocating funds from the city budget into infrastructure repairs, and mitigating constituent requests/complaints. If the election results favored you, get to work now!

  • What common issues do elected officials address?

As a local elected official, often you will be addressing citizen complaints about needing assistance at utilizing government services and seeking personal favors or pardons. Elected officials must be able to handle strategic planning and the mitigation of disasters both natural and possible cyber breaches. 

  • How does government software help city leaders and their employees?

Whether you are the mayor or a lower-ranking town official, government software has benefits to improve the tasks of everyday work. Government technology solutions  simplify workflows for government employees across all departments, automating tasks that used to waste countless hours of man-power. Government software also improves communications between citizens and their local government to give city leaders more insight into infrastructure or services in your community that require updates. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Civic Engagement, GovTech