Nashville residents will soon get a mic to let elected officials know what they think of Mayor John Cooper’s proposed budget.
Over the next month, the council will get to propose changes to Cooper’s template and pass a budget for next fiscal year.
Last year, residents swarmed the meeting and called for more money towards housing, education and social services, while demanding less for the police and jails. But the call for an overhaul came too late — and in some cases was easy to ignore.
Some grassroots groups have been training members to get ready for this year.
WPLN spoke with neighborhood leader Gordon Stacy Harmon and two councilmembers to get tips on being effective at the next council meeting on Tuesday, June 1. Residents will only be able to give their input in person at the Music City Center.
When it’s your turn to talk you’ll be asked your name, stance on the issue and address. The purpose is to make sure you live in the Metro area.
The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. and be streamed live on the Metro Nashville Network for people just wanting to watch.
Here’s how to deliver a killer two minutes:
- Get your facts straight. It’s important to remember elected officials want to hear from residents, but they must make decisions that are justifiable and gel with the law.
- Be unscripted. You want to be natural and unscripted while also hitting your points on time. So write out your points. (I like bullet points; it’s easier to digest if I need to reference it.) And practice hitting them on time. Sometimes groups organize to deliver their theme. It’s important to apply these notes and have each person talk in their own voice because, if not, the message will get lost.
“I’m elected to listen,” Councilmember Tanaka Vercher says. “It is beneficial when neighbors speak from their authentic perspective.”
- Deal with your emotions. We’re human so having emotions is cool but you must reel it in. If you’re angry or frustrate, it could cause some councilmembers to shut down and not listen.
“Telling personal stories that make real the outcomes of our decisions is very powerful,” countywide Councilmember Burkley Allen says. “That is more likely to sway an opinion than being belligerent or threatening.