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Politics

First Coast Connect: Senator Bob Graham Says ‘Yes, You Can Fight City Hall’

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Kevin Meerschaert
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WJCT
Chris Hand and Sen Bob Graham appear on WJCT's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Voters from across the political spectrum have expressed frustration with elected officials, major party leaders and the candidates. They have often told pollsters they didn’t think the government listened to their concerns.

Appearing Thursday on First Coast Connect, former Florida Senator and Governor Bob Graham said he understands the public’s frustrations but added there are ways to get the attention of elected officials beyond the ballot box.

“If we’re learning anything from this presidential election it is how dissatisfied so many people are,” he said. “You don’t have to think that as a citizen you have to take it. You can actually make a difference.”

In his new book, “America, the Owner’s Manual — You Can Fight City Hall and Win,” Graham teams with former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown Chief of Staff Chris Hand to explain the ways citizens can get their message heard.                

Graham said you don’t have to rely on candidates you support to get the government to respond to your concerns.

“Our democracy was designed to give citizens many entry points and opportunities to make a difference,” he said. “The problem is it’s like a football team. If you don’t go out and practice on the field and know what you’re doing and know the techniques that are necessary to be successful you are probably going to lose a lot of games.”

Each chapter of the book starts with a case study of a group of citizens who saw a problem and came up with a strategy to solve it.

Hand said as Brown’s chief of staff he heard from residents daily with concerns that needed to be addressed and others who offered solutions.

He said being able to watch and participate in the process of going from problem to resolution was one of the most gratifying parts of his job.

Graham will also be speaking Saturday at Speak Up for Florida Forever, an environmental summit being presented by Florida Blue and the Florida Conservation Coalition. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Camp Milton Historic Preserve on Helsema Road in Jacksonville.        

Producer Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at kmeerschaert@wjct.org, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax