In October 2016, I collected concerns from 100 of my neighbors. I went door-to-door in neighborhoods surrounding where I lived and asked what they wanted their elected officials to work on. I summarized over 300 of their concerns into 23 main categories (listed below).
Their #1 concern? Politicians … don't care about us … represent their wealthy friends, not us … don't respond to, nor communicate with us.
To see how many of my 100 neighbors' concerns had been addressed during 2016, I reviewed 200 meeting minutes from 8 of my neighbors' 10 elected bodies. Fewer than 6% of 1,221 new policies or laws came close. I cannot say that their other concerns were not addressed – just the ones mentioned to me on those cold, rainy days. Sewer, water and garbage were not on the list, but probably would have been if the city stopped taking care of them.
Here are the October 2016 concerns that my 100 Tacoma, WA neighbors told me that they wanted their elected officials to work on, in order of most-mentioned in main categories and within categories (out of over 300 comments).
POLITICIANS: they don't care about us or understand our concerns, they don't respond and communicate with us, and they don't represent us but represent their wealthy friends.
PUBLIC EDUCATION: improve academics, fund education, school bus safety, mental health, and nutrition.
POLICE / CRIME: what do they protect and who do they serve, plethora of crime, and resolve officers' racial prejudices.
ROADWAY MAINTENANCE / SAFETY: fix my street's potholes, and safety / accessibility.
COST OF LIVING / LIVING WAGE JOBS / ECONOMY: too expensive, system favors wealthy, create living wage jobs, and economy.
HOMELESSNESS: help them / fix the causes of homelessness (this was from people living in homes), and homeless are littering my street (only 2 comments).
PERSONAL INTERACTIONS: discrimination / equity / bullying, abortion, leadership, and other.
SAFETY: general safety, noise, environment, loiterers, food-GMOs, street trees, and privacy.
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: identify conflict exit strategies / declared wars, maintain U.S. borders / define who immigrants are, and spend military funding effectively.
DRUGS: reduce usage (addictions), and other.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: efficient / effective system, and other.
SOCIAL SECURITY / MEDICARE / MEDICAID / DISABILITY / VETERANS: cost of living and healthcare for seniors, better run VA and SS, don't mess with SS and Medicare and where are veterans' disability percentages, and I need a wheelchair ramp on my street.
GOVERNMENT: responsiveness, ethics, needs improving, and other.