Over the last several months some former city councilmen have expressed their dislike at citizens not being able to speak during council meetings. It seems they are not alone.
The final question of the night posed to the candidates asked if they supported Mayor Lance Green’s policy of only allowing citizens to speak before the council meeting begins. Those opposed have argued that they may want to speak during an agenda item.
Green has repeatedly told them they can talk to council members or city staff about an item outside of the meetings.
Until last night some council members have supported Green’s policy, but no one on the council has publicly said they don’t agree with the policy.
All of the candidates answered the question no, including current council members Beverly Gorham, Tammy Folvarcik and Scott Marshall. Gorham and Marshall have both supported the policy. Marshall simply answered no, but Gorham and Folvarcik said they don’t support the policy as it stands at this time.
Marshall in Tuesday’s election guide defended the policy but said it might need some fine-tuning and quotes Missouri Municipal League Director Gary Markenson. The MML promotes the Mayor’s policy and encourages its use. The MML is also a lobbying agent for municipalities. Just last month Markenson testified against a bill that would strengthen Missouri’s Sunshine Laws. Markenson along with the Missouri Association of Counties were the only groups to testify against the bill. Several legislators testified in support of the bill and the measure has bi-partisan support.
The matter was also brought up on its own by some council candidates. Jim Dunwoodie, who is running unopposed in the Third Ward brought the issue up himself.
“You can talk at the council meeting before it starts, but then you got to sit down and shut up,” he said. “I think the citizens of this town need to take control.”
Dunwoodie said the problem could be taken care of in numbers. He said he is disappointed in how many people participate in the process.
“The council needs a lot more input from the citizens,” he said. “For the council to know what’s going on, they need to hear from the people. If you fill the council room up, they might get the idea that there’s a problem and might listen to you.”
First Ward candidate Bob Bond echoed his statements.
“The more people that come and voice their concerns, the better off we’re going to be,” Bond said. “If you do not like me or I do not perform well, vote me out.”
Fourth Ward candidate Terrie Stanley said there is a reason for the policy. She said some council members and the mayor don’t want citizens at the meetings.
“They are confusing you. They don’t want you coming to the meeting,” she said. “They want to get it done, get it passed and get out the door.”
Current Councilwoman Beverly Gorham interrupted Stanley and said she toof exception to her comments.