Name of Professional: Bill Woodard
Profession/Title: Frisco City Councilman
Business/Company name: Frisco City Government
In my recent interview assessments, I have discussed what I have learned regarding the inner workings of municipal governments. My interview with Frisco councilman Bill Woodard stood out. In this informational interview, I learned a lot about how public officials effectively communicate with residents, as well as how residents actively contribute to their governments.
Councilman Woodard made it clear that while meeting with residents is by far the most rewarding aspect of serving on City Council, the most challenging aspect is balancing all the different viewpoints and perspectives from residents. He further explained that as he meets with individual residents and interest groups in Frisco, he has found that personal conversations are the most effective way to ensure that residents feel respected by their government. He then told me a few anecdotes of where he had constituents frustrated with the outcome of a council decision. Instead of explaining that all decisions are final, Councilman Woodard said he explains how the council reached the given decision. While this does not change the outcome, he claimed that more often than not, constituents leave meetings having learned a new perspective on an issue, making it easier to accept the decision.
As our informational interview continued, Councilman Woodard told me that among the 13% of voters who turn out in Collin County elections, many of them are uninformed voters. This information did not shock me, given that I had already learned similar information from other interviews and articles. However, instead of simply accepting the information and moving on to an unrelated question, I questioned what residents can do to become informed voters who are actively involved in their community. He first told me to not be afraid of asking questions. Councilman Woodard stressed this, given that as long as someone questions their government, they will be informed and understand the benefits and negatives of most government issues. Along with asking questions, he told me that it is also important for voters to attend city meetings and fact check candidates. It is important to receive information from primary sources, but to also make sure that the original source is correct. He believes that it is incredibly important to do as so because it allows voters to reach opinions while avoiding biases, while also ensuring that voters are familiar with all sides regarding a particular issue. Councilman Woodard believes that if more voters asked questions, attended city meetings, and fact checked statements, then voter turnout would increase and voter ignorance would decrease.
As I left the interview, I tried to synthesize the information from my other interviews and research. I began to understand that effective government officials are not just good at policy writing and decision making, but they are also respectful and considerate when talking to their constituents. Before my interview with Councilman Woodard, I believed that government officials and politicians were charismatic solely for the purpose of reelection. I learned that my preconceptions were far from the truth. From the information he gave me regarding communicating with voters, it became clear that government officials work hard to appear charismatic in order to display respect for their constituents. This is done not out of ambition, but instead to ensure that voters trust their government. Going forward in my research, I hope to use this new information to evaluate the effectiveness of other government officials and their strategies in pushing different legislation efforts.
Date of Interview: September 14, 2016