In this election season, readers should know how responsive their current Council Members are to their constituents. It depends on what you contact them about. When it is a dinner invitation, they are very responsive. When it is a community matter, the outcome is a different – as I found out over the summer…
Our responsive mayor
As a resident of American Canyon, I left a phone message for Mayor Leon Garcia (about a community project for which I was in the early planning stages). He did not respond. Two weeks later I sent him an email, elaborating on the subject of the phone message. He did not respond. One month after that, I sent him another email. He did not respond.
Our responsive council members
After another month, I sent a letter to each of the other four other council members, telling them about my experience with Mr. Garcia, and asking them: “Is it the policy of the American Canyon City Council to ignore communications from its residents?” Mark Joseph and Belia Ramos replied (they did not answer my question, but offered to assist me in whatever matter I had contacted Mr. Garcia about). Kenneth Leary and Joan Bennett did not reply.
A revealing “experiment” with a dinner invitation
Two weeks later, as an experiment, a friend of mine sent an email to the four Council Members and to the Mayor, inviting them to be “guests of honor,” individually, at upcoming dinners. This time all four Council Members replied – promptly (some within minutes of the email being sent!). Mr. Garcia did not respond to this email (at least he is consistent!).
“Serving” the community
Council members are supposed to serve their communities. How can the American Canyon City Council Members serve their community if they do not even respond when their constituents contact them - unless it is a dinner invitation?
Focusing on Mayor Garcia specifically, if he dares to plead that he does not have “time” to respond to constituents (even after three attempts to contact him), then I will point out the following: (1) How long does it take to call, text or email a very brief reply, e.g., “We’ll talk later” or “Not a council matter” or “I will forward your message”? (2) If he does not have “time” to respond to his constituents, he should not have sought public office.
A novel campaign slogan
I would guess that Mayor Garcia’s re-election campaign promise is: “Re-elect me, and I promise you that, no matter how many times you contact me, I will ignore you!” Likewise Joan Bennett and Kenneth Leary.
It is a pity that voter participation in city council elections is so low that council members can be elected merely by friends’ votes and on name recognition.