Catalyzing local electoral and governance reform in Minnesota

Though many of the laws and policies that govern our lives are crafted in state capitals or in Washington, D.C., it’s local government that bears much of the responsibility for turning our laws into our reality. Our cities and towns are the true arenas of democracy.

Too often, we overlook the laws, policies, and institutions that operate at the local level. This neglect, though, presents tremendous opportunity for local innovation.

That’s why we’re excited to announce a $750,000 investment from the Joyce Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the Minnesota Citizens Assemblies Project.

We’ll be partnering with Professor David Schultz at Hamline University and the digital engagement and design firm ForgeWorks to give citizens in communities across Minnesota the opportunity to study and recommend reforms to their local governance and electoral processes.

Their recommendations will be used to improve government responsiveness to community needs and to reshape local government to reflect the priorities of the whole community. The recommendations of these citizens will also serve as blueprints for reform in other communities across the state and for Minnesota as a whole.

As Minnesota communities grow and evolve, we believe community members themselves should guide the process of local government reform. This initiative taps into the wisdom of local residents so that municipalities reflect their needs, values, and aspirations. We are delighted to begin this vital effort to give community members a clear voice in shaping the future of municipal governance and elections.

The Jefferson Center will receive a $100,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation to design, convene, and moderate deliberative conversations of demographically-balanced Minnesotans in communities across the state to prioritize meaningful local reform on governance and electoral systems.