Additional public presence needed for strong governance

Monday’s meeting of the Dowagiac City Council was a much more lively affair than usual.

Around a dozen members of the local community attended the meeting at city hall, many of whom were there to learn more about the upcoming city charter amendment proposal on the March 8 primary election ballot. While some of the audience was there just to learn more, a handful of citizens went before the councilmembers to ask questions and deliver comments about the proposal, which will ask voters whether or not to amend the charter to allow the city manager to appoint the city clerk instead of having voters elect him or her into office.

Whether these residents were for the proposal or against it, the six members of council present during the meeting certainly came away Monday night with a better understanding of what citizens thought about the impending ballot proposal.

The big take away we came away from the meeting thinking, though, was why can’t there be this level of interest at every council meeting?

At 7 p.m. every second and fourth Monday of the month, the city council meets at city hall, in its chambers located on the second floor. These meetings, as per state law, are completely open to the public, so anyone with a few minutes can swing by and listen the decisions the city’s elected officials are making to chart the city’s future.

More importantly, though, all these meetings offer residents the opportunity to deliver comments directly to the city council, mayor and city manager. Whether it’s to ask a question or simply make one’s voice heard, these comments are the most direct way possible to make sure our leaders recognize the thoughts and opinions of the people they are tasked with serving.

The Dowagiac Daily News prides itself on covering the actions of Dowagiac officials, by recapping council meetings or doing more in-depth stories about city projects. Through letters to the editor, we also offer readers a forum to express their concerns about the city or its elected officials on our opinion page as well.

While our readers can learn everything that’s going with their local government through our publications, we still encourage them to attend city meetings when they can, though, and to make their voice heard whenever something concerns them. The best way that our councilmembers and mayor can represent us is if they get our feedback, and the best way to do that is to talk them, on the record, in a public forum.

The combination of a motived government, an omnipresent press and an informed and engaged public can do a great deal of good for our community.

 

Opinins expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.

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