Elected officials who are good at being in engaged with their constituents give up a lot of time to serve their community. On the local level in Washington County, they don’t get much money as an elected official, so there must be other factors motivating them.
Yesterday Benjamin Dotson, the county leader of the NAACP, made another respectful but powerful request that the Washington County Commission meetings be held early in the evening so that more working citizens can attend. The monthly meetings have been held at 9:00 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month “forever.”
Dotson’s request wasn’t new. That same request has been made by citizens over the course of several years, but it fell on deaf ears.
Larry Mathis, who is serving his first term as a Commissioner, once told a room full of citizens that if their concerns were really important to them, they would find a way to be there. People said they can’t afford to clock out at work and asked why they should take a day of vacation or expect a smaller paycheck because they needed, or wanted, to attend a Commissioners meeting.
Yesterday Mathis softened his stance and agreed with three other commissioners to try evening meetings.
This time it was Commissioner Melton Jones, who stunned the small group attending the meeting yesterday. Jones said point blank, and repeated himself, that he would not attend any Commissioners meetings due to his family and work schedule. Period. He followed up by being the only one to vote against granting a long-standing request from a broad range of citizens over several years.
So now the ball is in the public’s court. The meeting dates and times will be advertised in the local papers and on radio stations.
If citizens don’t show up we give the Commissioners our approval to meet at a time that is convenient to them, which looks like 9:00 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month.
Which would suit Commissioner Jones just fine.