The Countywide Community Forums is a King County public engagement program overseen by the King County Auditor. The program is designed to enhance citizen participation, civic engagement, and citizenship education in government through a network of periodic public forums where people gather in small groups throughout the county to discuss current issues and provide important feedback to county government and other public officials.
Under the program, registered citizen councilors can meet at a time and place of their choice in homes, libraries or work places throughout King County to learn more about an issue that matters to them, discuss it with the group and complete a detailed survey on their views. The survey results are communicated back to participants, members of the King County Council, other government officials, members of the media, and the general public.
Through its unanimous adoption of Ordinance 15896 (pdf), the King County Council created Countywide Community Forums in late 2007. The ordinance was previously King County Initiative 24, sponsored by Richard (Dick) J. Spady, co-founder of Seattle’s Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants. The program is based on a model developed principally by Dick Spady who is also president of the Forum Foundation (external link). As discussed in The Leadership of Civilization Building that he co-authored, it enables citizens to participate meaningfully in providing feedback to public officials on issues of importance to the community.
The entire program is funded through voluntary donations. As part of its efforts to promote meaningful civic engagement as a countywide mechanism to improve accountability and transparency, the auditor’s office oversees program operations and ensures the integrity of data collection processes and management controls over program funds.