Public comment kept at council work sessions

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A resolution to allow citizens to address the Selma City Council during meetings instead of work sessions did not pass after a Tuesday night vote.

The resolution was removed from Tuesday night’s consent agenda to be discussed further and voted on separately.

The change to council policy and procedures was proposed by councilman Johnny Leashore during last week’s work session. Leashore said his constituents asked him to pursue changing the policy while he was running for office.

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Councilman Sam Randolph made a motion to vote on the resolution and amend it by giving citizens the option of coming before the council at meetings or work sessions and requiring citizens requesting funding to come to the work session.

The original vote was tied at four apiece. Council President Corey Bowie voted no, along with council members Susan Youngblood, Miah Jackson, and Jannie Thomas.

According to Bowie, between 2015 and 2017, 182 citizens addressed the city council.

Bowie said a good number of those citizens requested funding, while others brought up other issues in the community.

“By the citizens coming before us that Thursday, we were able to vote that Tuesday because we had enough time to move forward,” Bowie said after going through the numbers. “If they came before us that Tuesday night, we would have delayed it until two weeks later.”

Leashore changed his vote to no, making it six to three.

“As much as this hurts me, I would like to change my vote to no because this issue is not going to die as long as I’m on this council,” he said. “My vote is no, and it is strictly for me to keep discussion on the table.”

By changing his vote, Leashore can bring the issue back up in the future.

The citizen’s request currently allows people to address the council during work sessions, which are not aired on the radio or television. Leashore said last week he wanted citizens to be able to address the council on Tuesday’s so votes could be taken and other citizens could listen to on the radio as well.