Harris County Precinct 2 is a very big place. Encompassing 17 community centers, 15 different municipalities (including parts of Houston), 12 school districts and over 1,300 miles of roads within its boundaries, the precinct is an agglomeration of varying demographics, needs, talents, resources, and unique challenges. To accurately and meaningfully serve all of Precinct 2 communities, Commissioner Adrian Garcia began his term by hosting listening sessions and town halls designed to better understand the needs and concerns of precinct 2 constituents. The goal? To engage, educate, and empower the Precinct 2 community as a whole.
Indeed, engaging the public is one of three prongs of Commissioner Garcia’s visionary goal for how Harris County government should serve its constituents. In and of itself the word “engage” is interesting in that it has two meanings. One is “to participate or become involved in” and the other is “to attract or involve (someone else).” When Commissioner Garcia assembled the Precinct 2 Community Relations Department, he put together a team that would serve both functions. By meeting constituents where they are and expanding community engagement to social media, the Precinct 2 Community Relations Department is able to proactively involve communities and organizations wherever they are, in real-time. Engaging the community effectively and efficiently through different platforms allows the department to identify the desires and understand the needs of areas as diverse as Huffman, McNair, Seabrook, Aldine, and Channelview.
Holistically engaging the constituent community means that the Precinct 2 Community Relations Department is intentional in its communication. Acting as the eyes, ears, and mouthpiece of Commissioner Garcia, members of the department solicit input and disseminate information as it becomes available. In order to impart information about events, services, upcoming infrastructure projects, new laws and policies from Commissioners Court, or other topics, this department engages and remains engaging by:
- Attending monthly or regularly-scheduled community meetings (HOA’s, Civic Clubs, Super Neighborhood Councils, local sports associations, etc.)
- Participating in chambers of commerce and rotary events
- Engaging places of worship and faith-based organizations
- Organizing town halls and tele-town halls, enabling community members to voice their ideas, concerns, or questions directly to Commissioner Adrian Garcia
- Canvassing door-to-door in various neighborhoods to inform the community about upcoming meetings, events, or available resources in response to or in preparation for an emergency
- Assisting and staffing Local or Disaster Recovery Centers
- Partaking in special community events (health fairs, festivals, school fairs, etc.)
- Directly connecting constituents with information, resources, and assistance through Constituent Service Requests taken by phone, email, or online
A community that is engaging has a purpose. Individuals and families come together to discuss problems in their neighborhood and how those problems can be remedied. That is where the Precinct 2 Community Relations team comes in. They listen, get involved, and then act. They connect the dots. They answer questions, educate the public about a host of issues, process complaints ranging from a pothole or a dead animal on a public road to a missing stop sign, roll up their sleeves and plant trees or pick up trash alongside members of their communities, participate at the anniversary of a church, or break bread with a civic club leader. By engaging Precinct 2 residents with vigilance and gusto, the Community Relations Department breaks down barriers typically associated with the way local governments and their constituents engage. In doing so, constituents can be assured that Commissioner Adrian Garcia is truly listening.