Civility, Openness, and Transparency in County Commissioner Meetings
I began going to County Commissioner meetings over three and a half years ago and I’ve missed only a handful in that time.
When I began attending those weekly Monday morning meetings in 2015 I had just stepped off the Bridge Emergency Shelter board of directors and I was curious about the work, processes, procedures of County Commissioners.
When I began attending the meetings I was given the opportunity to reflect upon what I personally value as aspects of effective leadership, key traits of which, in my experience include being civil, respectful, and able to really listen to another person. I also greatly value openness and transparency of actions as essential characteristics of public meetings.
For instance, I believe it is not only “polite”, but is indicative of transparency when those who are making presentations to the Commissioners are introduced and clearly identified. Transparency also means that the documents being considered are displayed clearly on a screen for the public to view and remain visible long enough for people in the audience to read in the entirety. Additionally, it is imperative that the purpose of executive sessions is clearly identified and the motions to have an executive sessions be made with all appropriate citations. There are open meeting laws that governing executive sessions and these laws must be followed.
I deeply value transparency in the proceedings of public officials.
Since I first began attending Commissioner meetings I have noticed several things change, possibly as a result of mine and other’s committed attendance:
- There has been more clarity and exactness about the how and why to have executive sessions.
- There has been an increasing effort to make documents that are being considered available for people in the audience to read, although I believe there is more room for improvement.
- There has been an increased effort to introduce presenters to the panel of Commissioners and to the room in general.
Lastly, and sadly, it has been my observation over the years that basic civility has decreased toward individuals presenting or making public comments to the Commissioners. This has meant less listening and more interruptions of presenters.
It’s not easy to approach common ground when there is rude behavior.
And rude behavior has no place in Commissioner meetings.
As County Commissioner, I will work to instill these core values into all aspects of the Commissioner’s job. I will be civil, respectful, open and transparent in all that I do. I will listen to the needs of the people of Montezuma County.