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The City Journals

Respect the Times

Oct 04, 2016 04:40PM ● By Briana Kelley

Mayor Dave Alvord conducts council meetings twice each month (Briana Kelley/City Journals)

By Briana Kelley | [email protected]

Those who attend city council meetings can attest that duration varies dramatically and often continues into the late hours of the night. This led Mayor Dave Alvord to issue a public plea to keep council meetings timely.

Alvord recently wrote a letter to South Jordan residents asking for help to adhere to the published agenda and limit public comment. This letter raises questions: How would this affect public meeting participation? Will residents still be able to voice concerns? Alvord assures residents that they are welcome to participate and recommends other ways that they can make their voice heard.

“I’m just trying to let the public know that I’m trying to adhere to the times listed on the agenda, and if it ends up that we have more people wishing to speak, I certainly won’t deny them,” Alvord said.

Alvord suggests writing directly to himself or a council member by email or letter. He also suggests calling a council member or the mayor and gathering petitions or assigning a spokesperson for a specific issue.

“I’m just asking for your help as residents,” Alvord said. “If you could consider emailing your council member, if you could consider getting petitions. The strategy of having a hundred of your neighbors all come to a meeting, that sometimes isn’t the most effective way to get your point across. It could be, in some situations. I personally think public comment works best when you have tried all of your other options first.”

Alvord believes that this issue needs to be addressed because of the growth the city has experienced in recent years. Also, adhering to the times listed on the agenda is more respectful to those wanting to attend for a specific item. Alvord also believes it helps city officials avoid making decisions late at night, which can lead to more difficult and rushed decisions.

There will be no formal enforcement to this request; instead, Alvord will remind those in attendance of the posted times at the beginning of each meeting. If the need for more time arises on a specific item, the council may move to set up a separate meeting to address the issues.

“I can assure you that the city council values your input,” Alvord said in the letter. “Frankly, we need it. Each of us ran for office to serve and to do the ‘will of the people.’ However, in a city as large as ours, public meetings may not be able [to] facilitate all who wish to speak.”

Alvord encourages those residents who may feel frustrated when specific answers are not provided at council meetings to email or call the mayor or their district’s council member. He said doing so provides an opportunity for dialogue and thoughtful response that is not always possible in a public meeting.

“I am committed to more fully respecting the times listed on the agenda,” Alvord said. “I hope you will support me in this effort.”