Being at these meetings is so essential because it gives you a chance as a candidate to begin and nurture relationships with the people working in these respective departments. It gives you a chance to see them in action and to ask them questions afterwards. Also, many times they have reports that are handed out to the Board members. I have found a simple request for a copy is all that is needed to get one and the information within can be incredibly valuable in developing your understanding of the many facets of your government and locality.
I have been attending these meetings for the last 18 months before putting my name forward for candidacy and I have had the opportunity to begin and grow relationships with many of the different department heads and some of the support staff in the Government Center in Verona. All of this work makes things much easier when an issue comes up and good information is needed.
H/T "The Journey" for the photo.