A Western Carolina University political science and public affairs professor is helping a Western North Carolina town learn more about what its residents want from their municipal government.
Christopher Cooper, assistant professor of political science and director of WCU ‘s master’s degree program in public affairs, is designing a citizen satisfaction study for the town of Sylva.
“Results from this study will be used by town officials to better understand how citizens evaluate government services in Sylva,” said Cooper. “By understanding citizens’ thoughts about government services, the town will be able to identify its strengths and weaknesses. The ultimate goal is to increase the quality of life for all citizens living in Sylva.”
A voluntary and confidential questionnaire will be mailed to more than 600 residents of Sylva within the next two weeks. The questionnaire, which should take about 10 minutes to complete, asks residents for their thoughts on existing programs and services provided by the town, and seeks input on possible new services that might be offered in the future.
Cooper, who is working on the study with WCU student Alison Melnikova, will share findings with town officials when the results are compiled, tallied and analyzed, probably a month after the questionnaires are returned.
A member of the WCU faculty since 2002, Cooper also holds an appointment as a faculty fellow in WCU ‘s Institute for the Economy and the Future, where he works on applied research, surveys and data analysis. He conducted a public opinion poll of residents of the 23 westernmost counties of North Carolina in 2003 and 2004 to determine the region’s demographic characteristics, economic outlook, and political and social opinions.