My time on council taught me some important lessons. One of those lessons, and the one that drives me to write today is, as a rule, the loudest folks in the room are often heard best. Whether or not those folks are on the right side of any particular issue is another matter.

Nevertheless, public policy starts at the grassroots level, and as such, any good American wishing to represent a constituency should consider both the ideas and constructive criticism from neighborhood associations and its membership.

Neighborhood associations provide input and a direct line to the public servants we elect to represent us. That input is crucial to creating public policy that benefits the largest swaths of our community. Without the many neighborhood associations across the island, many of the quality of life improvements made in this city simply would not exist.

Now, if you feel like the city sometimes disregards the opinions and needs of residents, I encourage you to run for office and be the change you want to see. If I can do it, so can you. If that’s not your cup of gumbo, I encourage you to get involved in your neighborhood association, become a member, attend monthly meetings and speak up. These meetings are a great place to meet your neighbors, gain knowledge of the issues facing your community and have your voice heard. Also, and as an added bonus, often there’s a social hour and some wine, just saying.

On Monday, our port director, Rodger Rees, will be attending the University Area Association meeting at Mario’s Seawall Italian Restaurant, 628 Seawall Blvd., in Galveston to discuss the new cruise ship terminal, its benefits to the community, and how it may impact your quality of life. I encourage everyone to attend and to engage him with your questions and concerns.

Once again, I encourage participation in your respective neighborhood associations. Take a look online, talk to your neighbors, and if you can’t find an association that represents your community, I suggest you start one.

Frank T. Maceo is a former city councilman for the city of Galveston and is president of the University Area Association.

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