How did Fairfax City, Va., get voters to approve six questions worth $9.6 million in a 1993 bond referendum, when two out of four such referenda had failed in the previous 15 years?

The answer won the city a communications award this month from the Virginia Municipal League, a 65-year-old organization that does lobbying and other work for state and local governmental interests.

According to the league, the city council appointed a seven-member citizens task force to run an information campaign designed to reach 11,000 voters.

The task force wrote an information bulletin for households that explained the referendum process, defined and explained the bonds, described each bond question, analyzed the city's financial health, and gave voting and ballot information.

The task force hosted a talk show that was aired weekly in the month before the election, and it operated a telephone hotline.

Also, the Council of Civic Associations sponsored community meetings to provide information on infrastructure projects the bond proceeds would fund, including improvements in water supply, public buildings, traffic flow, and storm water management.

The city's total cost for the campaign was $6,000.

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