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Gainesville councilman invites residents to meetings
0803CITY
The front of an invitation handed out by George Wangemann.
City Council meeting
When: 5:30 today
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville

Residents on Ridgewood Avenue and Riverside Drive likely received a hand-written invitation last week — not to a birthday party or a wedding shower, but to a Gainesville City Council meeting.

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann went door to door, delivering the invitations and talking to constituents in hopes of drumming up more involvement in local government.

“It seems like most of the attention has been focused at the federal level of government,” Wangemann said. “But people rarely get to hear about what’s going on locally. I just wanted to give greater encouragement to get people to do that.”

He said he thinks the invitations will result in a few more people at today’s 5:30 p.m. council meeting.

“Many people were home, and I was able to talk to people face to face,” Wangemann said. “I had a couple people say they’d do their best to be there. If they show up, I’ll be very pleased.”

Wangemann said he filled out and delivered 100 invitations to this evening’s meeting. He plans to make his way around the city, passing out invitations street by street, before each meeting.

“It takes time, but to me it’s worth the effort because people know you really care when you do something manually,” Wangemann said.

Soon, he will have help from other council members.

“Our city is making up invitations for all of us to take to the citizens,” Wangemann said. “It’s a full council project.”

City Manager Kip Padgett said clerk Denise Jordan has designed invitations, which will include space for the council members to add dates of the meetings and space for their names and contact information.

“She’s getting ready to send it to get printed,” Padgett said. “I think the council’s always interested in having people come to the council meetings to see how the city government operates.”

Wangemann said it is important for him as a councilman to know that Gainesville residents are informed and have a voice in city business.

He said he also hopes the invitations will make residents feel more comfortable with their elected officials.

“We’re small enough that people can still contact us by phone. They can come to my house, they see me at the grocery store,” Wangemann said. “I don’t want people ever to feel intimidated.”

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