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By Gina Wilson Steward

Elected officials must follow the rules


March 18, 2021

I attend many City Council meetings; some in person or on ZOOM. There are normally not many people attending. The audience is mostly made up of department heads and under ten loyal residents. Why don't more people attend the meetings that govern their city?

This is Sunshine Week and the focus is transparency and Freedom of Information from Elected Officials. (You will see several articles in this week's issue that deal with transparency.)

I normally mention that we have to hold our elected officials accountable. But I want to take it a step future and say that they should hold themselves accountable. Each elected official raises their hand and take an oath before the people that they represent. Their guideline is the Charter or the Constitution. What do you do when they don't follow the Charter? A couple of the cities say. 'Our charter is so old'. What does that mean? Does it mean that they do whatever they want to do because the rules were for subjects that haven't existed since 1970 or things are done that didn't exist before 2000. I know, it cost a lot to redo the charter or they say it has to go before the people. Well aren't they making decisions for the people. I think they need to have a guideline to follow so we can hold them accountable for following the rules.

But what happens when they don't follow the rules of the charter? Sunshine Week is a good time to begin to require the people we elected to follow the rules. It should not be normal for them to just make up the rules they want to follow or change them as they see fit.

If we must follow the rules, then so should they.

Gina Wilson Steward



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