Commissioner refuses to attend Commissioners’ meetings

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 2010 WLarry 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 Melton T Jones 2006 Wmeeting 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.

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
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One Response to Commissioner refuses to attend Commissioners’ meetings

  1. Deborah Eve Rhodes says:

    I applaud the Washington County Board of Commissioners for their decision. There have been numerous times over the years I wanted to attend their meetings, but could not due to my work schedule. Citizens can not be expected to simply “take time off work” to attend the meetings. Citizens have the right to attend ALL meetings regardless of the desire to address a special topic or if they simply want to remain informed of the operations and actions of their governing body. The meetings need to be held at 6:00 P. M. so the public can attend. Elected officials hopefully run for office due to their desire to serve the public rather than serve themselves or special interest groups. There will be times officials will have to miss meetings for legitimate purposes. If they expect standard meeting times should be set to fit their schedules, then their “desire to serve the public” is questionable!