When I first started knocking on neighbors’ doors, I thought my job was to introduce myself and “my” positions. “Hi, I’m Paul.  I’m running for city council on a platform of smart growth, fiscal discipline, and building community consensus.” I would usually get a courteous hearing and find some areas we care about in common. But I noticed I wasn’t learning very much about the people I hoped to represent.

So I started a new way of introducing  myself: 

“Hi, I’m running for city council, and the reason I’ve come to your door is because, if I’m elected, I’d be representing you. So I wanted to ask you if there’s a particular issue you care about at the city level so I can represent you well.”

Then it became my job to do the good listening, not the citizen’s. I heard that our road repair projects are being conducted in a totally inconsiderate way, blocking all escape routes from a neighborhood, with no way-finding signage or indication when the project will be complete. I heard that we still don’t want fracking in our neighborhoods–HB40 or not–and want someone to stand up for our health and safety. I heard we’re not so thrilled with indiscriminate growth in Denton, that developers don’t seem to care about the special character of our city.

Y’all are teaching me so much about how to be a good representative for you if you elect me, I’m going to keep right on listening.