Hoping to attract more moderates to the political debate, the city is launching a new web-based public engagement platform.
Most people who come to City Council meetings tend to already have strong positions on whatever has compelled them to show up, city community relations director Mitzi Rapkin said. To get a wider sample of local public opinion, the city is turning to an “Open City Hall” software program go get input on specific initiatives.
Rapkin introduced the program at Thursday’s annual Aspen Chamber Resort Association-city of Aspen luncheon at the Doerr-Hosier Center at the Aspen Meadows.
The program, administered by Peak Democracy and costing the city $2,100 for the first year, requires commenters to disclose their identities. Peak Democracy staff screen each comment for profanity and other uncivil language, and will even call a comment writer if a post is questionable, giving them the chance to edit themselves. The program also keeps track of where each comment is coming from geographically.
The first topic the city will use the software for is the North Mill Street pedestrian improvement project. Two comments had been posted as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday on the effort to make the busy thoroughfare more pedestrian and bike friendly.
Hopefully the program will encourage a more civil discourse, Rapkin said, and get more people involved who don’t typically go to city government meetings.
“We call it public engagement from your private space,” Rapkin said. “You can do this in your pajamas.”
Some 30 governments, including Salt Lake City, use Peak Democracy software for web-based public engagement, Rapkin said.
Also at the chamber luncheon, ACRA President Debbie Braun reported that 75 percent of member businesses surveyed said that business has been good or excellent lately. That’s up from last year, when just 34 percent could make the same claim.
It was also announced that Donnie Lee, general manager of The Gant condominium hotel, will succeed Warren Klug as chairman of the ACRA board. Klug, general manager of the Aspen Square condominium hotel, is stepping down after three years at the helm of the ACRA board.