Calumet City officials conducted a survey of residents last month on a variety of issues. This is something other communities should consider.
The survey asked residents what needs to be done to improve the quality of life in Calumet City. It's a good subject to ask residents about.
Originally, the plan was to have presented the results last week, in time for a hearing Nov. 12 to give people a chance to speak out about Calumet City.
But Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said the survey offered a lot of feedback, with hundreds of people responding and late results that were worth being included.
"I want to know what the people think about Calumet City," the mayor said. "I think we can learn some things from our residents."
The survey asked about the quality of city services such as police protection, garbage collection, local parks and school districts. It also asked respondents to help determine the city's biggest challenge and what the focus of city government should be in coming years.
The survey was mailed and available online.
It's a model other communities, large and small, should consider.
It's one thing to hold a public hearing at which diehard activists will show up and another to ask residents to sit in the comfort of their own home and fill out the survey.
Local government is about being responsive to residents' needs and desires, so ask residents to help clarify what they want.
At minimum, it improves the community by showing local officials care enough to ask. And even if no surprises surface, at least the results would confirm local leaders' sense of what the community wants.
Ask what the residents want in the future, and ask them to help set priorities for the community — and then not only make the results public, but also act on them.
Use residents' ideas to form a strong vision and steps toward achieving those goals.
This approach could pay big dividends for the community's future.