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What Constituents Want From Their Government Officials: Strategies For Successful Local Leadership

By Stephen Brandofino

Serving your community as a local government official is no small feat. In this role, you are tasked with the responsibility of not only managing the daily operations of your community, but also ensuring that your decisions align with the differing wants and needs of your fellow citizens. It is a delicate balancing act that requires a nuanced understanding of the community you serve and a sincere commitment to addressing their concerns.

From budget constraints, to infrastructure development, public safety, and environmental sustainability, the challenges local government officials face are layered and always changing. Every decision made has the ability to affect the lives of those within your community lines, making what's at stake feel even heavier.

In the face of many different challenges, it is important to remember what constituents want. There is often a struggle between finding a balance between the desire for change and the resistance to it. 

Some constituents may hope for rapid change and innovation, while others fear the loss of traditions and the disruption of their daily lives. While meeting the needs of every constituent in a community is nearly impossible, it is important to implement the necessary strategies to become a successful local leader. 

Continue reading to learn what constituents want from local government and how to achieve these goals for a happier and more vibrant community!

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Table Of Contents: What To Expect  

  • Overview : How Do You Define Local Leadership?
  • The Basics: What Constituents Want
  • A Deeper Understanding : What Do All Constituents Need?
  • Utilizing Digital Transformation to Address These Needs

How Do You Define Local Leadership?

Local leadership is the process of leading and influencing a community or locality towards achieving different goals and addressing unique challenges. This area shows the values of local government leaders through their actions and decisions. When citizens participate in the election process, elected local government officials will mirror the wants and ideals of constituents who voted for them. Some of the key ingredients to local leadership include:

  • Vision and Direction: Effective local leaders have a clear vision of where they want their community to be. They are able to articulate this vision in a way that gets people on board. They will set goals and priorities that reflect the aspirations of the community, while also considering factors such as economic feasibility, equality, and environmental sustainability. 

Learn about how to Refine Your Local Core Values here. 

  • Collaboration and Engagement: A great local leader can recognize that they may not have all of the answers. Great leaders will often seek input from a differing range of stakeholders, including residents, businesses, community organizations, and outside government agencies. By creating this sense of inclusion and visibility, a more coherent and sustainable community can be achieved. 

  • Accountability and Integrity: Local leaders should always operate with transparency and integrity, holding themselves accountable to the people they serve. Open lines of communication regarding their actions and decisions, as well as taking responsibility for mistakes, can help gain the trust of the community. 

Read on about Building Trust in Local Government here. 

The Basics: What Constituents Want From Their Government

Understanding what constituents want is a fundamental aspect to effective local governance. While specific desires can vary depending on the communities demographics, location, and history, there are several different standard pillars that constituents look for:

  • Accessible Information

Providing accessible information for constituents is crucial for fostering transparency, engagement, and trust in local government. Some ways to facilitate community members access to information includes, user friendly websites, social media, email press releases, and public meetings and forums. Communication is vital with your constituents when trying to disseminate information. It is important to keep healthy lines of communication open and available.  

Read GovPilot’s Case Study for North Bergen, NJ here! 

  • Public Services

Access to quality public services is a core need for many constituents. This includes necessary infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and public transportation, as well as essential services such as sanitation, utilities, and other emergency response units. Public services are oftentimes the lifeblood of a community, and it is important that they are consistently performing at their peak. 

Learn about Streamlining Constituent Services here!

  • Convenience 

Convenience is an intrinsic expectation that constituents have for their local government. Citizens desire streamlined processes, easy access to services, and efficient forms of communication to make interacting with government officials easier. 

With the help of many of GovPilot’s software solutions, including clerks department software, and the GovInspect Mobile App, local citizens can feel a new sense of convenience!

  • Honesty

Honesty and transparency are essential pillars of local government. Constituents have an inherent right to expect truthfulness in government activities, decisions, and policies. It is important to create open forms of communication, and hold local government officials to a high level of accountability. 

When you embrace honesty and transparency as core principles, it will be easier for local governments to create trust, foster civic engagement, and strengthen relationships with members of the community. The end result will be an honest and accountable government. 

  • Safety

Every human has a right to a safe and healthy environment. Ensuring the safety of constituents is not only imperative but can also be considered the main responsibility of local government officials. Putting a priority on safety measures and collaborating with citizens and other officials, can create secure and protected environments. When constituents don’t have to worry about the safety of them and their families, they can focus on things like career and education opportunities, health and wellness, and contributing more to their communities

Utilizing Digital Transformation To Address These Needs

Digital transformation is the process of adopting advanced technology in order to create or modify current workflows and products. Many organizations have moved toward digital transformation to better engage with both their employees and the people they serve, bringing along with it many benefits. 

Digital transformation can be achieved in local governments with the help of GovPilot. GovPilot’s wide software offering can provide municipalities with the opportunity to improve efficiency, workflows, and save time. 

Here are some GovPilot products that can transform your municipality:

1. Online Permitting and Inspection Options

One of the most mundane and tedious tasks for any local government official is the process of online permitting as well as inspections. With piles upon piles of paperwork, bureaucratic red tape, and lags within inter department communication, it can take way too long to get proper permits in many cases. 

Not only does this frustrate constituents and local officials alike, but it also can hinder the ability for things like infrastructure projects and economic development to take place.  Local governments should look to move away from utilizing paper based permitting as the cons of this system far outweigh the pros, especially with tools like the cloud, constituent’s sensitive data can be better managed and protected.

Learn more about How Permitting Software Works here. 

2. Streamlining All Departments To Get More Accomplished

Local government offices are filled with many different departments. From public works, to the clerk's office, to the department of motor vehicles, these different departments can all greatly benefit from digital transformation. By becoming more digitized, processes that can better serve your constituents can be done quicker. Not only will digital transformation help with interdepartmental communication, but it will also lead to overall better outcomes on projects and initiatives.

Learn more about the 13 Benefits of Digital Transformation for Local Government by clicking here. 

3. Increased Time Savings 

Municipal employees usually have a lot on their plates. According to a study conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting, 47% of all government employees experienced burnout. With the help of a digital transformation, this number can be greatly reduced. Many of GovPilot's software seeks to help government employees save time on many of their tasks. This can allow them to focus on more important tasks that may provide more value and be meaningful to their growth.

Learn all about time-savings in our Guide To Time Saving Strategies For Local Governments here.  

4. Impactful Constituent Engagement 

Not all constituent engagement is necessarily impactful. It is important to make sure that these interactions are meaningful and useful in the long term. It is vital for local government officials to involve community members in decision-making processes, allowing for transparent dialogue. 

This open line of communication will contribute to a sense of pride in residents for their contributions to policies and initiatives that positively impact their lives. GovPilot software streamlines constituent and government communication through the report-a-concern app and constituent engagement software modules. 

Consider What Your Constituents Want 

Local government officials need to support their constituents by providing them with the most requested needs, and ensuring government is accessible to all citizens regardless of ability. Local government leaders must provide modern tools for their employees to help them serve their community in the most effective and impactful way possible. Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn more about what we can transform for your department. 

Local Government Constituent Needs FAQs

  • Why is it important for constituents to have a voice in decision making? 

Constituents deserve to have their representatives truly represent their needs and support their requests. This representation of the community is ideal to keep constituents thriving in their community and trusting of their leadership.

  • Why is it important to address constituent needs? 

Constituents are very vocal when they are given the opportunity to voice their needs because they trust their government to keep them safe, informed, and involved in matters that involve them. It is vital constituents have a voice to get what they want out of government leadership! 

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Tags: Constituent Engagement, Civic Engagement