City Notes: Translating feedback key to Whitehall's planning for future

Kim Maggard
Guest Columnist

A new year is upon us, and 2021 marks new opportunities for Whitehall.  

As we plan for our community’s short- and long-term success, the city prides itself on engaging with community members to help ensure your input is taken into consideration, especially as city leaders make budget decisions, set strategic priorities and work to improve our front-line services.  

While we often use online surveys to quickly capture feedback on specific service areas or projects (such as with parks and recreation programming or garbage collection), we recognize that results from the online surveys easily can be swayed due to a lack of random sampling which can cause selection bias.  

Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.

This means that individuals who are overly in favor of or opposed to a specific issue may be more likely to respond, skewing the results. While these results give us meaningful feedback and are put to good use, we are aware of the fact that the results may not accurately reflect the overall sentiment of our community. 

This is one of many reasons why the city administers a biennial Community Attitudes Survey, the most recent version of which was fielded this past fall.  

The Community Attitudes Survey is conducted over the phone by a third-party polling firm using randomly selected phone numbers from voter rolls and school enrollment data.  

Once the phone interviews are complete, survey results are weighted to ensure they reflect the diverse demographics of our community members. As painstaking a process this may be, the results statistically are sound and (within a slight margin of error) considered to be representative of the overall community sentiment.  

This type of data and feedback is invaluable to city leaders. It is not only a barometer of how we are doing service-wise (good or bad), it also helps us better understand what our residents consider to be high-level priorities as we look to the future.  

From the 2020 Community Attitudes Survey, we gleaned that more than 80% of the community believes we are headed in the right direction and that overall satisfaction with city services is high and, in most areas, is improving compared to 2016 and 2018 surveys.  

The 2020 results also revealed areas where the city can improve, such as with the handling of difficult customer-service situations. Critical feedback is valuable as we seek to better serve the community. Learn more about the full 2020 Community Attitudes Survey results at whitehall-oh.us.  

At the same time, we understand that some residents may be disappointed at not being randomly selected to complete the survey.  

First, let me say that the city deeply appreciates your eagerness to provide feedback. Second, the city always welcomes your feedback and a number of avenues are available to express your opinions. One way to give is by submitting comments for poll public which are read aloud at each City Council voting meeting.  

Until we resume in-person meetings, comments can be submitted via email to the clerk of council. Your council members also would love to hear from you. If you’re not familiar with your ward representative, a list and contact information is available at the city’s website under the City Council section.

Finally, as your mayor, I look forward to hearing from you, too. 

Regardless of how you choose to engage with the city, thank you for your input and desire to make Whitehall an even better place to live for generations to come! 

Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.