LEXINGTON, Ky. - As part of the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, Lexington submitted a proposal to launch a website called CitizenLex.org, where the public could identify problems, ideas, and solutions. Mayor Jim Gray talks about the feasibility of the project in this week’s edition of Mondays with the Mayors.
What is CitizenLex and why did you feel was the best option?
“Having a system for collecting ideas, finding data, discovering allies -- having that platform -- would be itself something that cities don’t have. What it does, too, is it pushes and encourages democracy in an even greater way.”
How do you envision CitizenLex operating? What kind of manpower will be behind it?
“In today’s age what we try to do is use automated technologies to their fullest and most robust way. So the expectation is that we would have a provider, a company that would actually manage the system. That’s why we’re creating alliances with technology firms to actually explore these options.”
On the application, it says that Lexington plans to appoint a Director of City Innovation. How would that work with CitizenLex and what would that person do?
Having someone responsible for this level of engagement, the innovative context of it, is really important. We’re talking about one person, that’s part of what the Bloomberg funding would provide. The grant would actually fund a role like this. The job would be to help create and then manage the system that engages this full and robust idea-generation and implementation system.”
How far along is Lexington in bringing this idea to fruition even without the Bloomberg money (a $5 million grand prize)?
“Win, place, show, or just in it for the run, we will learn. And we learned in this that there’s a wellspring of interest among our citizens. Government itself has historically been a convening system. And what this is designed to provide is just that, in a very focused in a very efficient way. Where are we? We’re already talking with technology partners, so we’re already working on the platform. It’d be great if we get the support of the Bloomberg grant. There are 300 cities competing; that’s stiff competition, but we’re still optimistic. We’re a competitive city, we know that. And in looking at it on balance, we feel like we have a pretty compelling and pretty competitive idea here.”