“What is the most important problem facing Anne Arundel County?”
AACC students working at the Center for the Study of Local Issues asked county residents this question during its semiannual survey last fall. Being an election year, the survey was particularly important as a measurement of county opinions.
“The survey helps bring to light issues voters might not be aware of, and I think the results help project the likely front runner,” said Tim White, a student who conducted some of the survey phone calls. “I was most surprised by the amount of interest citizens had regarding local issues. Most respondents … had a good idea of the issues at hand and would provide their own opinions and how they felt the issues should be resolved.”
The CSLI also evaluated the post-election outcomes, already looking toward 2020 and 2022. “The results are a great tool for candidates to use to determine what areas require more campaigning and if their past tactics have been effective,” White said.
Students are involved in the survey design, collection and evaluation, and many gain a greater appreciation for local government after working in the CSLI. “Interning with CSLI has allowed me to enter a community of people interested in the affairs of our state,” said McKenna Austin-Ward, a student who decided to intern at the CSLI after taking an International Relations class. “I have become a bit of a civic humanist.”
As Steuart Pittman, the new county executive, settles into his job and Gov. Hogan begins another term, Austin-Ward encourages everyone to stay engaged in local affairs. “Local governments’ decisions significantly affect our day-to-day lives from the state of the roads we drive on, to the funding provided to our public schools, to the amount of jobs available to residents,” she said.