A new nationwide study says people who actively speak out on local government issues tend to be older and more affluent than the average citizen.

The report, compiled by the National Research Center for Governing magazine from surveys done for over 200 local governments, says 26 percent of people age 65 to 74 reported having contacted a local elected official within the past year compared to 12 percent of people aged 25 to 34.

Long residency in a community also was associated with high participation levels. Among people who’ve lived in town more than 10 years, 23 percent said they’d contacted officials in the past year, while only 7 percent of people who’d lived in town less than two years said that.

Affluence was mildly associated with more active participation. Twenty-two percent of those making over $150,000 a year said they’d contacted elected officials, while only 16 percent of those making less than $25,000 said they had.

Among racial groups, Asians were least likely to reach out to officials — at 10 percent. All other groups were roughly twice as likely to do so.

The same trends generally held true for attendance at public meetings.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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