Mr. Lander Goes to Washington

Brad Lander at a participatory budgeting meeting. (Photo: Facebook)

Brad Lander at a participatory budgeting meeting. (Photo: Facebook)

Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander’s interest in local issues has resulted in some national attention.

Tomorrow morning, the White House will be honoring Mr. Lander as an “open-government and civic hacking” “Champion of Change” for his work on behalf of participatory budgeting in the City Council.

Members who volunteer to take part in the participatory budgeting program allow ordinary constituents to vote on how millions of dollars in discretionary funding are spent. Instead of Mr. Lander deciding to renovate a park or school bathroom in his Park Slope district, the voters do.

“I’m very honored, of course,” Mr. Lander told Politicker this afternoon. “What’s exciting to me about … participatory budgeting is just how much it brings people together.”

Mr. Lander, who will be traveling to Washington, D.C. to accept the award, said he doesn’t know if tomorrow’s event “really qualifies as ‘going national,’” but was nevertheless hopeful that participatory budgeting would continue to expand to a “significantly increased number” of council districts. Currently, eight out of 51 members participate, he said.

“I hope that means that we can involve the Council as an institution in some ways,” he said of next year.

According to the White House, tomorrow’s honorees “have made a tremendous positive impact by building high-tech tools to help health workers and disaster-response crews better serve communities; piloting innovative programs to involve traditionally disengaged communities in local governance; using new technologies to enhance government transparency and collaboration; and more.”