Letter to the editor: Supporting in-person city council meetings

Editor:

I have been thinking about the Edmonds City Council’s decision to go back to Zoom meetings. After listening to the citizens and my fellow councilmembers, I see that there are advantages for having in-person meetings. Therefore, I will be joining Councilmembers Diane Buckshnis, Adrienne Fraley- Monillas and Vivian Olson to vote for in-person hybrid city council meetings.

I asked the Council President to add this to the Sept. 7,  agenda, but she declined to do so. First, she advised me that it was scheduled for discussion Sept. 28.  Then, she advised me that I could add it to the agenda from the dais. Therefore, I will make a motion to add an old business item for continued discussion of the city council meeting format on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

I just want the public to know that I have listened to you. While I remain concerned about the COVID-19 Delta variant, I think we can protect ourselves and others by following the rules. These rules include following the statewide mask mandate for public indoor settings and the CDC guidelines for social distancing. Then individuals can decide for themselves whether they wish to attend the Edmonds City Council meetings in-person or virtually. The choice will be theirs to make.

This COVID-19 pandemic’s Delta variant was not a factor when the city council returned to in-person meetings in August. At the first meeting, most people did not wear masks and the room was packed. I reasoned that if we were unable to safely meet, then it was too risky for city officials, staff and the public. That is why I initially supported Zoom meetings.

However, since then we have an indoor masked mandate and the city can do a better job of arranging socially distanced chairs and sanitizing the microphone between public comments.

This has been a fluid process that requires flexibility. We have the opportunity to adapt quickly as circumstances change. This is one change that I am ready to embrace. I want to return to in-person city council meetings with the hybrid option.

Kristiana Johnson
Edmonds City Councilmember Position 1

  1. Thank you CM Johnson.
    The City Council needs to hear directly and in person from the citizens about the numerous, wide ranging policies it has been considering.
    In the past 18 months, too may of those future-altering policies (up-zoning and housing, tree policies, policing, streeteries, hate portal, etc) were being considered and or/ implemented without adequate citizen engagement.
    Thank you for putting live meetings back on the agenda – that is what is needed to ensure a vibrant and welcoming future for our beautiful city.

  2. These are good thoughts offered by Council Member Johnson. Let me add a few more: Require that those is attendance be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test no older than three days. Have security check people in at the door. The council can vote to pay for the security from the nearly $11 million received from the federal government for COVID relief. Have every chair more than 6 feet apart. No standing in the council chambers. Do not allow waiting in the foyer or hallway in front of the council chambers. And of course, mask up. Do these simple tasks and people will be safe to participate in council meetings.

  3. I want to thank Kristiana Johnson for trying to end the Zoom meetings. People who want to be there, should be. Too many unpopular decisions are being made without enough input from the citizens.

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