This month's "Postcard" is a two-part series by Arti Garg, who has a Ph.D. in physics and M.S. in aerospace engineering. Here, Arti describes delivering public comments at a Hayward, Calif. City Council committee meeting. These comments led to a follow-up meeting.
Tell us about yourself. I work in data analytics and artificial intelligence. In the past, I worked in the federal government on R&D policy. I moved to Hayward about five years ago.
How did you engage? I would like to see Hayward establish itself as a hub for cleantech hardware companies. I mentioned this to a city council member at a meeting for the city task force I serve on, and he suggested making a public comment at the Council Economic Development Committee meeting to gauge interest in the idea. After looking up the committee’s membership online, I also set up an informal meeting with the other council member on the committee to discuss my thoughts before making my public comment.
What was the engagement like? When I entered the meeting room, I added my name and contact info to a sign-in sheet by the door. In keeping with California’s Brown Act, all public meetings in Hayward start with a public comment period. Once the meeting is called to order, attendees are invited to make a public comment. Usually, you start with your name and a description of your affiliation to the city (e.g. resident, business owner, etc) and limit your comment to two minutes. I prepared some remarks beforehand, which I read. Because the committee can only discuss items that are on the public agenda, the committee simply thanked me and moved on to the next commenter.
What did you get out of this experience? A couple of months after the meeting, I received a request from the city’s Economic Development Manager to meet and discuss my ideas related to promoting cleantech. I found the public comment path to be a good route to starting a conversation about a new idea.