NASHVILLE (January 9, 2020) – Tennessee has consistently trailed most other states in voter registration and turnout, but a new report from ThinkTennessee shows how a group of Tennessee mayors are using the power of their offices to help their communities increase civic engagement.
The report, How Local Leaders Can Leverage Their Office to Engage Voters, highlights the progress of Mayors Growing Civic Engagement participants and provides a roadmap for other local leaders who want to follow in their footsteps.
“As communities across the nation prepare for the 2020 presidential election and the Census, the need to increase participation in civic life has never been more urgent,” said Shanna Singh Hughey, ThinkTennessee president. “Our hope in sharing these examples is that the commitment and work of Tennessee’s mayors will help inspire and prepare other leaders – in Tennessee and beyond – to take similar steps.”
ThinkTennessee joined with city and county mayors across the state last summer to launch Tennessee Mayors Growing Civic Engagement (TMGCE), a cohort of local leaders committed to making civic engagement a priority in their communities. Currently, thirteen mayors reflecting the diversity of the state – urban, rural, Democrat, Republican, Independent, East, West and Middle – and representing over two million voting-aged Tennesseans have made the pledge and developed action plans.
“Our communities are at a critical point where citizens are largely disengaged in their government and, maybe worse, are lacking in opportunities to re-engage through inclusive and meaningful processes,” said Athens City Manager C. Seth Sumner. “I found the TMGCE movement as a powerful tool to identify and practice approaches to reinvigorate the republic, drawing our people in to safe spaces where difficult conversations can take place; where together, we can work on solutions for our communities’ big problems.”
The report shows the breadth of opportunities available for mayors who want to achieve their civic goals, from integrating civic engagement into existing systems and practices to creating new pathways to deepen civic engagement in the community. It also provides practical tools and resources to support other local leaders who may be inspired to act.
“Our city, state, and country are all stronger when everyone gets involved,” says Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “Over the last few years, we have worked closely with a variety of community partners, including civil rights advocates, faith leaders, business leaders, and members of our Mayor’s Youth Council, on strategies to boost enrollment and turnout. We’re excited to share what we’ve learned with our partners at ThinkTennessee and find out what else we can do to strengthen the democratic process from the ground up and the inside out.”
Tennessee Mayors Growing Civic Engagement is open to all Tennessee mayors who are eager to develop civic-engagement action plans for their communities. For more information, visit www.thinktennessee.org.