- Response to Council Action on October 2, 2012In the Hickory Daily Record last week, Citizens for Equity in Government presented five specific ideas for improving the way our City Council functions to serve the people of the city. Each of these ideas relates to enabling the Council to become more transparent and more responsive to interested citizens. In addition, CEG called for members of the Council to meet with representatives of the CEG which followed a suggestion made by Dr. Michael Crowell from the NC School of Government.
On Tuesday night, at the first meeting of the City Council since the special election, the Council to an extent responded to the CEG’s first suggestion to move the "Citizen’s Requesting to be Heard" from the end of the meeting agenda to the front . That response, in a motion made by Mayor Rudy Wright, passed unanimously by the Council . Mayor Wright has stated that this was done to allow citizens to comment on any specific agenda item prior to the Council moving on to the Consent Agenda and the rest of the meeting. While we commend the City Council for attempting to address Citizen Comment in a more constructive manner, it was once again done through a process that failed to gather citizen opinion through open dialogue before the Council moved forward and the motion was approved.
The Mayor and several Council members have publicly indicated that they are open to meeting with “any voter” with an issue or concern. CEG members are voters and citizens of Hickory. Our efforts in the recent referendum effort helped to correct the failure of the City Council during the 1960’s to allow the voters to decide how they prefer our council members to be elected. The Mayor has said he wants “to move the city forward in unity.” It would help if he proved his sincerity by not continuing to speak disparagingly about citizens who voted “Yes” on the referendum, and by meeting with CEG representatives.
Clearly, by the vote Tuesday night, City Council has acknowledged the validity of some of the concerns and issues that led to the petition drive and referendum. We hope they will heed Dr. Crowell’s insightful wisdom and agree to meet with CEG representatives for a constructive dialogue to discuss citizen issues, working together to build an enduring foundation for all of the people of Hickory.
- Joe Brannock and the Citizens for Equity in Government