In 2021, the Municipal Association’s board of directors adopted a strategic plan that included restoring civility in government as a top priority. Leadership on this issue is something we take very seriously.
Our nation was founded by people who believed they were creating a system of governance that would enable citizens to work together constructively, whatever their differences of opinion. But the system relied upon those citizens treating each other with patience, tolerance and respect.
As destructive as incivility can be in everyday life, it is particularly harmful in a city council meeting, or in our municipal offices. Local government is about solving practical problems, and anything that interferes with effective, respectful communication, renders nearly impossible the vital jobs our members do.
The Association is here to help our local leaders be the example of how to govern best and to emphasize the basics of effective local governing, such as
- running effective meetings. We have an entire handbook on how to conduct effective public meetings.
- communicating thoughtfully. Being open, honest and transparent — making sure everyone has access to the same universe of facts — is essential for people from different backgrounds and with different viewpoints to work together toward real solutions.
- building relationships. Cultivating trusting relationships with others involved in an issue takes time, but the effort is worth it, and will pay off in the future.
There is much more to consider, and going forward, the Association will do everything it can to help our members serve their communities more effectively despite of the current crisis in civility.
B. Todd Glover, Executive Director
Pillars of Civility
Be as eager to listen as to speak.
Concentrate on what you have in common, not what separates you.
Act as you would expect someone to act in your home.
Make your case on merits, not on what people want to hear.
Your time is valuable. So is everyone else’s. Respect it.
Ask questions to learn. Answer questions with respect.
Concentrate on facts, not theories.
Ask “what will persuade people in this room?” not “what will make a great tweet?”
Make your point about the issue, not the person.