Making government more accessible and information available to citizens have been core values for me during the time you’ve allowed me to serve in the House of Representatives and as your mayor. During my time in the Legislature, our campaign pioneered transparency measures in campaign finance by sharing daily, down-to-the-penny financial updates online. I was the first to live-tweet legislative votes from the floor of the House. During the legislative sessions, I shared a write-up on every single vote I cast. These were my attempts to help make the legislative process more transparent and digestible from home.
As I have led the city of Woodstock for the past year, I have been so proud to see the culture of transparency and open accessibility shared by our city’s staff. From the city manager to all 200-plus employees, I have witnessed a team of dedicated public servants seeking better ways to involve and inform the public on the city’s activities while searching constantly for innovative ways to share information.
Members of the City Council and I broadcast all of our meetings live, and share the recordings and minutes online. In addition to the live broadcasts and historical archives, we publish two agendas prior to every meeting. You can see our agenda and a bullet-point listing of the business to be taken up during the meeting. You also can see our agenda packet, which comprises the supporting information tied to each agenda item. These packets often run 500-600 pages long, and they are the exact same information that we receive as elected officials prior to a meeting. In fact, we access it through the same links on www.woodstockga.gov as the public, in order to read and research before a vote.
Our meetings always are open to the public, and you are more than welcome to attend, listen and even participate during the dedicated public hearing portion. We meet on the second and fourth Mondays of most months at 7 p.m. in the Chambers at City Center, and we have a work session (similar format and equally open to the public) on the third Monday at 7 p.m.
Curious about the city’s finances? We publish budget information and comprehensive annual reports going back for years, so you can see how we’re stewarding your money today and compare it to the past. Our budget process also is part of the public meeting process.
Curious about our organizational structure or leadership? We publish our entire organizational chart, contact information for each department, city leadership and council members on the website, as well.
Are you a nerd like me who likes maps? Our GIS (geographic information system) Services Department publishes some incredibly helpful maps, like our annexation growth boundary map recently negotiated with Cherokee County, maps to help you discover whether you live within the city limits or who your council member is, zoning maps, parking locations and much more.
Most recently, we’ve launched two incredible public-facing map tools that help answer the most frequent questions I get. What is going on at any location, and what is the city doing with any road or intersection? First, the new Major Projects Map easily displays all of the upcoming developments in the city, filtered by Public Hearing Cases (still in process), Approved (pending construction) and Under Construction (currently being built).
Second, the new Transportation Projects Map displays currently slated projects, as well as recently completed projects. You’ll never have to see orange cones and wonder what might be coming again. We make sure you can locate it on a map and get the information you need.
Above and beyond each of these transparency initiatives, and so many others, I hope you know that you can reach me personally anytime. You can contact me via my city email at firstname.lastname@example.org or my cellphone at 678-523-8570. It is an absolute honor to serve you and our city, and I will continue to do my best to make Woodstock a place where we all easily can be informed and take part in our city’s future.
— Mayor Michael Caldwell
– Michael Caldwell is the 31st mayor of Woodstock, a retired state legislator, member of the Georgia Technology Authority, partner at Black Airplane, husband to Katie, and father to Oliver, Elizabeth and Charlotte.