The battle over the residency requirement for some city employees has been picked up by former New Bedford City Council candidate Lisa White in the form of a petition.

City Council President Linda Morad recently proposed abolishing the residency requirement for those municipal employees it still impacts. The ordinance change is now in committee for debate and mark up. It is unlikely the matter will come to the floor before next February.

Former at-large city council candidate Lisa White is opposed to abolishing the rule, and she has started an online petition to put pressure on the councilors and Mayor Jon Mitchell to preserve the four-decade rule.

An online petition is a nice start, but it is hardly going to be enough to pressure the elected leadership of the city. Anybody can start an online petition and it takes almost zero effort to sign the petition. People who understand grassroots politics aren't going to be impressed by a political movement that exists solely in cyberspace.

If Lisa White is going to build critical mass with the voters in New Bedford, she is going to need to go out to the people and solicit them to join the cause she has committed herself to. She has started a political fight with City Councilor Linda Morad, not the other way around.

Lisa has to start going door-to-door with a voters list and ask voters to sign her petition. I assume she has other activists who agree with her and they will have to join her in the door-to-door signature drive. White and her team will have to go to public places like supermarkets and coffee shops to gather signatures efficiently.

Her campaign to gather signatures also needs some printed material to educate the public on the issue.

Lisa White has taken on a big task and the city's leaders will be watching how she handles it.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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