Skip to content



Equitable Civic Engagement



National Engagement Starts with Local Engagement

In This Episode:

[01:18] Guest Mindy Romero is introduced.

[02:14] Mindy shares if there’s a resurgence of civic engagement.

[05:52] Mindy talks about whether there’s an opportunity to translate national engagement to local level engagement.

[08:48] Mindy speaks about building trust with communities with local policymakers that aren’t demographically reflective.

[12:26] Mindy shares if she’s seen strategies where communities have attempted to create more accessible pathways.

[17:10] Mindy gives her thoughts on how trust plays into voter turnout and if there are strategies to increase voter turnout.

[22:07] Mindy addresses how to measure the quality of the engagement.

[27:08] Do events like what happened in Charlottesville make us stronger?

[30:06] Mindy provides where listeners can find out more about her work.


Kate Meis joins the Infinite Earth Radio as the co-host for this episode. Kate Meis is the Executive Director of the Local Government Commission (LGC). Kate is a champion for local governments; a recognized leader in local climate change adaptation, mitigation and clean energy efforts; and an ardent coalition builder. She obtained a Masters of Science degree in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis, and has a Sociology Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sonoma.

Guest & Organization:

Photo by Eddie Ostrowski

Mindy Romero, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP). Romero is a political sociologist and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Davis. Her research focuses on political behavior and race/ethnicity, and seeks to explain patterns of political underrepresentation.  

Romero has been invited to speak about civic engagement and political rights in numerous venues, testifying before the National Commission on Voting Rights and the California Legislature, among others. Her research has been cited in major news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Politico and the Huffington Post. She has also been a frequent guest on National Public Radio, Capital Public Radio, and several other NPR-affiliated stations in California. She is a regular op-ed contributor to the Sacramento Bee.  

Romero works with a wide array of policymakers, elected officials, voter education groups and community advocates to strengthen political participation and representation. To this end, she has served on a number of boards and commissions. She is currently a member of the Public Policy Institute Statewide Survey Advisory Committee, President of the Board of the non-profit organization, Mutual Housing California, and Vice-Chair of the Social Services Commission for the City of Davis.

The California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) is a non-partisan civic engagement research and outreach initiative for the state of California and the U.S. Founded and directed by Mindy Romero, it is housed at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. The CCEP provides data and analysis to inform public dialogue about representative governance. We believe that inclusive civic engagement can help overcome disparities in social and economic well-being, and can improve health, education and employment outcomes for all Californians. The CCEP has become a go-to source for electoral and civic engagement research, including the examination of nationally relevant election reforms such as automatic voter registration, online voter registration and vote centers. Legislators, public agencies, advocates, researchers, media (state and national) and community leaders use its pioneering research to track disparities and opportunities in civic participation by place and population.

Take Away Quotes:

“I think it’s important, no matter what the numbers actually look like, the fact that we’re having these conversations, the fact that we are bringing more awareness to the importance of engagement, period—no matter, by the way, what side you fall on. We’re seeing engagement on all ends, I think, of the political spectrum.”

“When it comes to looking at our history, we know that, not just in terms of voting but in other forms of political engagement and civic engagement, that participation is low. We have some of the lowest turnout rates in the world, and if we look at some of the standard measures of engagement—protesting, or sending money to campaigns, or writing to your congressperson, or joining a board or a commission, or that sort of thing—participation is really low, and it’s really uneven across subgroups of the population. Those of color, and those that are young, participate even less.”

“We need to continue to push for more engagement and more representative engagement.”

“I would say that the local level is absolutely critical… at the local, that’s where you can make the case to people that if they’re worried about how their family is doing, their economic wellbeing, the quality of their water, affordable housing—these decisions are influenced by the federal level certainly, at the state level, but very much at the local level. And you can create that narrative to really show people what that connection is and how voting, participating, having a voice, speaking up at the local level can actually have a real, tangible, visible, immediate effect in people’s everyday lives.” 


California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP)

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference– February 1-3, 2018