Talk the Vote at The Ren

Participants engage in a community conversation on Sept. 27 during the third "Talk the Vote" session on the stage at The Renaissance Theatre stage in downtown Mansfield.

MANSFIELD -- Attention social media warriors: If you want to actually have your voice heard by Mansfield leaders, you have three "Talk the Vote" sessions remaining.

So rather than sit behind the keyboard and shout into your own echochamber, you are cordially invited to join the community conversation.

The next session is Monday at Idea Works, 40 W. 4th St., at 6 p.m.,  the fourth in a series of six, hour-long listening tour stops. And yes, there will be refreshments!

It's a reprise of the popular event we first did in 2019, a voter-engagement project that gained international attention. The effort this year is being funded through a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network.

Candidates for Mansfield City Council are invited and several have attended. But they are there to listen, not talk.

What kinds of things are we hearing during the first three sessions, including Sept. 27 on the stage at The Renaissance Theatre?

Residents have asked about potential links and improved communication between the City of Mansfield administration and Mansfield City Schools as a potential key to economic and workforce development.

They have expressed concerns about local public transportation, especially the fact there is no Richland County Transit service in the evenings and on weekends.

They seek leaders who can offer solutions to the problem of attracting and/or keeping young adults in the community.

Many love the ideas found in Mansfield Rising and appreciate the improvements seen in recent years. But they wonder why we can't move even faster?

They express concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and local government responses. They want more cooperation on projects from the public and private sectors.

You have three more opportunities to participate in a unique process that will conclude with:

-- an informal "Meet the Candidates" night Oct. 25 at Idea Works, during which we will use your ideas to mold questions in a public forum to those seeking to lead Mansfield City Council.

-- the creation of a new "Citizens' Agenda," a blueprint based on your thoughts that we will present to city leaders when new terms begin in January.

-- a series of solutions-based stories in 2022 that will take your concerns and questions, examine how those topics are being addressed successfully in other communities, and provide that information to readers and civic leaders.

All sessions are open to the public. We ask that you register in advance, but drop-ins will always be welcome.

Ward 4 -- Oct. 4 -- Idea Works, 40 W. 4th St. Register.

Ward 5 -- Oct. 11 -- North End Community Improvement Collaborative Community Outreach Center, 486 Springmill St. Register.

Ward 6 -- Oct. 18 -- SC Event Center, 417 Orange St. Register.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"