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Herriman leaders hope website will raise resident participation

By Alex Cabrero  |  Posted Jan 1st, 2011 @ 5:05pm



HERRIMAN - Many of us have New Year's resolutions, but what about the city you live in? Herriman, in the southwest part of Salt Lake County, does.

City leaders want to get better resident participation on important issues.

"You can't make a good decision as an elected official if you don't know what your constituents want," said Herriman spokeswoman Nicole Martin.   When Herriman City council members wanted to hear from residents about the proposed county sale of Rose Canyon to Kennecott recently, only a handful showed up, and only one person spoke.

I realized there has to be a way to use technology to give the average citizen a voice in between elections.

–Icount CEO Troy Bingham.

"We really want to know what our residents think," said Herriman Mayor Josh Mills, "but a lot of times only a handful of residents come to one of our city council meetings."

It's typical of city council meetings all across Utah, where only a few residents voice their concerns and opinions on important issues. Recently, Herriman teamed up with Icount, a company out of Utah County that created a sort of virtual town hall.

Using a social-media-type format website, Icount allows cities to post important issues and residents to vote and give their opinion.

"It makes it easy from the comfort of your home, where you can now, with just a few clicks of the mouse, voice your opinion on section by section of a bill and let your legislators know how you feel about something before they go into session and vote on it," said Icount CEO Troy Bingham.

Bingham started Icount about a year ago because he wanted to get involved in important city matters, but didn't have the time to attend numerous city council meetings.

"I realized there has to be a way to use technology to give the average citizen a voice in between elections," said Bingham.

Herriman is the first city to try Icount and the city leaders are already using it for an important issue. The city wants to know what residents think about building a road to extend 5600 West, which would connect Herriman Parkway to 11800 South.

The city could bond for $2 million, wait for more federal and state funding, or do nothing.

City leaders decided to put the issue, along with information about the issue, on Icount.

"It could change my mind. I mean, my job is to represent the residents," said Mayor Mills. "I want to know what they think so I can better represent them."

Several Herriman residents have used Icount to voice their concerns and opinions about the road issue.

"We all have busy lives," said Martin, "but this way, our residents can get educated about an issue and give us their feedback on matters that will impact their daily lives."


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