Letter to the editor: Keep council commenting accessible after in-person meetings resume

Editor:

The following letter was sent to the mayor and city council:

Dear Mayor Nelson and Edmonds City Council,

As you know, COVID-19 has forced us to change the way we engage with one another personally, professionally, and civically. While some of these pivots have not been ideal, others have opened opportunities that had not been offered before.

In the case of city council meetings, before COVID-19, members of the public who wanted to comment during audience comments or at public hearings would either have to physically come to the council meetings or submit an email for public record (if they knew that could do that and hope that it was mailed in time to be a part of your agenda packets). With meetings now being virtual, having members of the public be able to participate from home via Zoom or phone has created a new engagement level. Admittedly, there was not much choice in the matter and the process came together clumsily for every community who had not done this before.

The other added benefit has been the increase of accessibility. As someone who works on behalf of persons with disabilities, I applaud the city for including live closed captioning of the council meetings. Thankfully, the process is becoming better, and more community members are engaging civically more than before.

At some point, council meetings will be held in person again. I hope there will be conversation on how the city can create a hybrid that would include keeping the virtual aspect, specifically regarding public comments.  I know there are many who cannot wait to physically attend meetings again, but I believe it would be a mistake to revert 100% back to the way things were for public engagement.

I look forward to seeing this item as an agenda discussion in the future.

Alicia Crank
Edmonds

5 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Keep council commenting accessible after in-person meetings resume”

  1. I totally agree with Alicia’s suggestions here. I too have thought we need to preserve the option of Zoom connections when City Council~ and our boards and commissions~ resume in-person meetings. People should always be able to submit their public comments via Zoom or phone connections, as well as their testimony at public hearings.

    During public hearings, officials occasionally need to ask clarifying questions of the those testifying, and those two-way conversations need to be accessible to both audiences~ those in the meeting venue and also those tuning in via Zoom or the City’s cable channel.

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  2. I do hope that zoom access is continued once in person meetings are back. Many other neighboring Cites have already committed to keeping zoom attendance available. I do hope Edmonds does the same.

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  3. I just want to know what is going on before it happens! ha. I know they hopefully will at least make it available to watch there is a lot in a face, looking bored. a sniping quickness, all the things you need a real face to see. And yes I noticed yesterdays paper had no other comments except about someone running for position 2 on the council. NO other news but comments on this one person. ALL pro comments. I don’t know about that. I know though Alicia. The city council may not want me showing up every time hahahaha. However I will grow on them. Good luck to you. Ready to help but I need my vaccines. Dan and I still haven’t been able to even get our first one so not mingling as we are quite compromised. But I will help you with volunteer work as soon as that second dose kicks in. Good luck. You would be so good in this position. Nice to see Edmonds taking an interest I agree with that too. We just need that total transparency to make everything fair and workable. I know you are a very transparent woman and I look forward to the truth. I may not always like it but I sure want the opportunity in my city to give or get an opinion on what is happening and where it is happening and why it is happening. Curious little thing I am. BUT curiosity did not kill the cat! Xo

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  4. Alicia I agree with your letter, having the option to continue to join in via Zoom on all the city and community meeting would be a huge plus for our city. We would have more people in all situations have the chance to be informed and more involved.

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  5. How about electing our Council Persons out of the districts where they and we actually live? Just think, there could be at least a couple meetings per month to actually interact with and have a real conversation with your very own council person who actually answers to you at the ballot box rather than everyone else in the city. Do you think this might negate much of the need for never ending citizen boards and commissions? How about giving these Council Persons a full time job, decent salary, and some real say in how things are actually run? How about making the Mayor position ceremonial only and putting the actual running of the city in the hands of someone who just wants an efficiently run town? What we’ve had forever here is cronyism, arbitrariness and favoritism in code enforcement, and catering to special interests. Friends and relatives at city hall, and all that vibe. Mayoral/Council alliances and voting have been more the rule rather than the exception. True reform is needed. Changing names and faces won’t fix it. All that does is make other people happy for awhile.

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