Instant polling provides interesting insights

Several weeks ago, the city of Snoqualmie held a town hall meeting at which the city provided information on various projects and departments. A unique feature of the meeting was the ability to ask questions of the audience and get real-time anonymous feedback.

The first 50 people who showed at the meeting were given hand-held feedback devices that collected their responses to questions proposed by mayor Matt Larson.

Hallelujah, a city that actually asks what people think and provides an easy, fast, uninhibiting process with which to do it. I am very impressed by this method of gathering feedback, but the responses to some of the questions are more interesting.

First, the makeup of the audience was primarily residents from Snoqualmie Ridge, and a majority of those had lived here less than three years.

A comment that has festered for years is that new residents just don't understand what it means to live in the Valley. Well, based on these results, that theory has been totally debunked.

A majority of those polled recognized that we need more local jobs when asked what Snoqualmie needs. No, not more restaurants or retail stores or even a community center. And I would bet that most aren't thinking of the $9-an-hour job at a restaurant or retail establishment. Those jobs are great but we need living-wage jobs; jobs that allow folks to work and live in the same community.

There was also an interesting response when asked about the noon siren. A majority of residents wanted to keep the siren. I think it's clear that new and longtime residents both want to retain small-town quirks as part of our quality of life. I am guessing the mayor and council also realized that they need to preserve some of our quirkiness rather than letting it die.

Another interesting question was posed as to when to put another community center bond on the ballot and a majority of those polled responded to wait until the school bond passes. Hey, some of us have been saying that for a few years now and guess what? Even new folks to the Valley recognize we may not be able to do both and that schools should take priority.

A question was posed about the trains along Railroad Avenue with most feeling that though they had some rustic charm, they could be considered rusted junk. The nice thing, coming from a member of the board for the railway museum, is that residents also felt the city should support the Railway History Center project that will provide a covered facility for a majority of the collection.

There were several other questions with regard to the Falls and the hospital, as well as wi-fi. You can find the complete results on the city of Snoqualmie's Web site.

I would encourage North Bend, as well as the school district, to do a similar feedback survey at a town hall meeting. Residents in precincts that voted "No" for the school election should be polled to find out their true reasons for voting it down, and North Bend residents should be asked what direction they want their city to go.

It was a great process and I commend the mayor, staff and council of Snoqualmie for taking this approach.

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