Let's talk about how we're talking about this election
A plea for honest, relevant & respectful discourse
Bonus episode of Lee's Summit Town Hall discusses the way information about next week's episode is being disiminated
I don't often find reason to post commentary on this site. But when I do it seems to always happen at election time.
As Link 2 Lee's Summit enters its second year of offering the Lee's Summit community a new source of local news and information, we continue to look at new ways to discuss local issues and share the stories of some of the amazing people living and working in our hometown.
In that vein, I approached a friend and colleague with hopes of convincing him to be a guest columnist. Jason Norbury is a local attorney and an active member of the community serving as a volunteer and member of the Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street Board of Directors as well as chair of the City of Lee's Summit's planning commission. What I hoped he could provide as a guest writer was the voice of an intelligent and active member of the community breaking down local issues in a manner suited to engage and encourage voter turnout and civic activism.
My sales pitch didn't go so well.
But the conversation did lead to a new partnership, and hopefully, a better way for both of us to further my original goal for his participation.
And so three weeks ago we launched a new podcast on this site — Lee's Summit Town Hall. With new episodes posted each Wednesday, Jason and I invite local residents to listen in as we attempt to have clear and honest conversations about our city. In each episode (which we try to keep them around 30 minutes) we want to offer listeners two things. One, an honest analysis of an important local issue and two, a chance to meet someone actively involved in efforts to better our community whether it be through business or personal efforts. Our first three episodes featured local artist and entrepreneur Dave Eames, entrepreneur Brad Boehm and volunteer Stephanie Walters, as well as break downs of the issues included on next week's election ballot.
While researching the ballot measures and planning our analysis it quickly became clear to us, there was a major obstacle to residents gathering the information needed to make informed decisions at the election booth. The obstacle comes in the form of local political action committees, as well as sitting members of the Lee's Summit City Council. This became very frustrating to both of us as we continued to hear voices, both for and against the various measures on the ballot, clouding the news feeds with vague accusations, untruths and irrelevant information.
Not wanting to muddle our attempts at unbiased breakdowns and analysis of the issues on the ballot, we chose not to bring up said statements in our regular episodes. We did however feel with our stated mission of both providing clear information and encouragement for residents to take part in our government processes (only 9.5 percent of registered local voters took part in last year's April municipal election), we had a duty to discuss some of these statements and the way information was being delivered. So, in an effort both meet that goal and maintain transparency in our regular podcasts, we decided to offer a separate special episode discussing the state of public discourse on next week's election.
While we call out a few individuals by name and talk about some of the specific claims, we have attempted to hold this conversation in the same manner as our regular podcasts. We do not want to push listeners toward one side of an issue or the other. What we want to do is focus on the issue of how we as a community talk about the election in hopes that we can encourage everyone to raise both their expectations, as well as their own level of participation.
During one of our conversations, I snidely asked Jason "So, you're telling me context matters?" His reply: "Yes, context matters. Context makes every matter."
This episode is longer than our first three, but I believe its an important conversation to have as we all search for ways to continue the positive growth of our community. For your convenience, below are links to some of the information concerning the issues on next Tuesday's ballot.