COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and nine partner agencies have announced The Mount Vernon Project: School of Public Service, a series of online trainings designed to give candidates for public office and newly elected officials at all levels of Ohio government an orientation to public service.
Current public officials, too, are encouraged to watch the videos, which could serve as a valuable refresher.
As Ohio attorney general, and in his previous roles as state auditor and county prosecuting attorney, Yost has helped secure numerous convictions for criminal and ethical violations by elected officials. The Mount Vernon Project aims to help both newcomers and veterans avoid potential pitfalls.
“Newly elected officials want to get down to the business of serving their constituents and fulfilling their campaign promises but can be derailed by mind-numbing nuances of bureaucracy and intricacies of public office,” Yost said. “This training provides candidates and new officials with the tools, resources and lessons to quickly succeed in their new roles – a resource that many experienced officials wish they had on the first day of the job.”
The six videos in the series focus on topics crucial to government leadership:
• Constituent Relations: Holding public meetings; interacting with the news media; and using social media.
• Ethics: Ohio’s ethics laws and what to know about financial conflicts of interest.
• Public Records: Why public records and open meetings matter; the time frame for responding to records requests; and requirements for public meetings.
• Structure of Government: The different forms of local government; the structure of the state legislature; and the roles of state executive officials.
• Civility: The value of civility in public discourse and what drives increased incivility.
• Government Finance: The different types of audits; what happens after an audit; and the guardrails that help local governments avoid financial trouble.
Along with the leaders who are featured in the series, The Mount Vernon Project has been endorsed by the Ohio Mayors Alliance, Ohio Municipal League, County Treasurers Association of Ohio, Ohio Recorders’ Association, Ohio Township Association, Ohio Clerk of Courts Association, Ohio Ethics Commission, the Portman Center for Policy Solutions at the University of Cincinnati, and the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
The name of the platform, The Mount Vernon Project: School of Public Service, was inspired by two “Mount Vernon” locations:
In a conversation with Yost, Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr acknowledged the challenges of navigating the complex field of government for the first time, and how a crash-course orientation could benefit both officials and their constituents.
Mount Vernon is also the namesake of the Virginia home of the nation’s first president, and the project aims to emulate George Washington’s legacy of public service by studying the lessons of the past and the principles of the present.
The video training is accessible through The Mount Vernon Project: School of Public Service Portal on the Attorney General’s website. Officials who complete the curriculum in its entirety receive a certificate of completion.
The videos are also available via the Attorney General’s YouTube channel. No completion certificate is awarded through this outlet.