By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew
In this election season, Americans are taking to the polls to perform the most treasured act granted in a democracy.
But, the election process is just one way for citizens to interact with government. And, according to Cynthia Northrop White, the best way for citizens to increase their knowledge of government is to get involved at the local level.
“I truly believe if citizens are knowledgeable about how local government works and how different levels of government interact they will be more successful in finding solutions to issues important to them,” White said.
White, a former Denton County (Texas) Commissioner, recently celebrated the release of her first book, Make a Difference: Navigating the Maze of Local Government (Austin Brothers Publishing, $24.95).
Touted as a “local government for dummies” type book that takes a holistic approach by connecting the dots between the different levels of government and how they each inform the other, White points to her ultimate desire of motivating and equipping citizens to engage in their local communities.
“We don’t learn about local government in school. I’ve talked to many citizens during my time in office over the years and have found that the more information they get on how local government works the more they want to get involved because they begin to see they can make a difference,” White said.
The book covers the nuts and bolts of local government structure and includes practical information on knowing who and how to contact, how the federal government informs local government and perspective on what make a community successful.
White, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Texas, stresses the importance of collaborative partnerships.
“I believe synergistic communities of cohesive local government, community-minded businesses, strong and supported non-profit community and informed and engaged citizens spell success.”
Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell and former Commissioner White’s served on the Lewisville (Texas) City Council for three years in the early 1990s and Denton County Commissioners Court from 2001 to 2008.
“I was impressed by Commissioner White’s commitment to not only serving the citizens but to her passion for educating them as well,” said Commissioner Mitchell, specifically recalling White’s initiative in creating and initiating a Student Government Day for high school seniors, hosting town halls on specific topics of interest to her constituents, creation of a monthly transportation task force meeting designed specifically for residents of her precinct and the creation of the “380 Coalition.”
The book also includes a collection of columns on county issues White wrote while in office and distributed to community newspapers and through her own email distribution list.
“The release of Make a Difference: Navigating the Maze of Local Government allows me to continue my mission to provide a convenient and compact resource for citizens on how to understand, connect, and make a difference in their communities.”
Top: Cynthia Northrop White, right, makes a presentation during a Women in Transportation meeting.
Right: Book cover: “Making A Difference: Navigating the Maze of Local Government”
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