Re: “City manager model fails in Seminole,” by Tom Christy, Aug. 14. Editor: Having been the chair of the recent Charter Review Board for the City of Seminole, I wanted to chime in on Tom Christy’s comments from last week.
The 2014 Charter Review Board met five times from February 18 through April 15 of this year. While these meetings were recorded and are available on the myseminole.com website, the lack of presence of the public at these meetings should be a wake up call that our residents may not be as engaged in local politics as they can be.
Concerns like those from Tom Christy could have been addressed during the public comment portion of the meetings. As chair of those meetings, I would have given wide latitude to anyone who wished to address us regarding changes to the charter. Something as important as this, I feel, demands more than the typical three-minute comment period at the city council meetings. There would have been no problem having a spirited dialogue during those meetings to address anyone’s concerns.
The charter review process is not perfect. There is no template or guide to tell us what steps to take and how to proceed. That can be both good and bad. Future charter review board members need to understand that they can and should advance their own individual recommendations for enhancement of the charter when they see a need for it. If there ever was time to bring up new ideas regarding our municipal operations, the charter review meetings were that time.
Article IV of the charter does provide for residents to place referenda for ordinances on the ballot. If enough residents feel a change is appropriate for the current council/manager model, they certainly have the power to do that. Councilors also can recommend and have charter revisions put up for popular vote, which means that communicating with your councilors is crucial to getting your voice heard.
Ultimately, the council has to find ways to engage Seminole residents to participate more. Seminole residents have a concurrent obligation to want to be engaged and to keep their elected officials accountable.