The inaugural class of City Council School graduated this weekend. The program from Action Tank, a local think tank, met virtually two to three times monthly since October.
Participant Natasha Mitchell plans to run for council and says the program has been life-changing for her.
"I don't think I could have went to a four year college and got out of that institution what I received from Action Tank City Council School," Mitchell said.
Fellow graduate Bill Frost is also running, and says he was amazed by the bipartisanship of the program.
"I think if you randomly picked nine people out of this class, and put them into city council spots right now, you'd see a lot more collaboration than you've ever seen in the last 20 years in the city," Frost said.
Action Tank Executive Director Ioanna Paraskevopoulos says about 125 people applied for the 25 available spots. She says they plan to do another class later this year, and they've learned a lot about topics they want to spend more time on.
"Ethics is one of them," she said. "Race and how it interacts with policy and politics locally is another. Development policy, certainly one. And then on the grueling side, we want to have more class time devoted to hard skills, like research and drafting and all that."
Interim Council Member Liz Keating, who was appointed in December to fill P.G. Sittenfeld's seat, was part of the first City Council School. Raffel Prophett has submitted petitions to run for mayor in the May primary election and several others are potential council candidates. A handful say they never plan to run for public office but participated to learn more about local engagement and advocacy.
Action Tank also launched City Council Night School because of the high demand for the program. The monthly standalone lectures cover some of the same topics as City Council School.