The League of Women Voters of East Alabama welcomed citizens, elected officials and runoff municipal election candidates to an informational session about sustainability and transparency in government and city planning Monday night.
The meeting, held at Auburn First Baptist Church, provided a platform for discussion on how the city can incorporate sustainable programs, conduct efficient city growth and maintain transparency in governmental affairs.
The session featured three guest speakers. Mike Kensler, Director of Auburn University’s Office of Sustainability, spoke about the implementation of sustainable practices throughout the city. He discussed Auburn’s stormwater management, complete streets policies and civic identity.
“Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the people in a way that is fair, just and equitable,” Kensler said. “It’s based on core values. It’s about how we treat each other, how we treat the world around us, and what we leave for the people who come after us. It’s a community conversation that will create something powerful.”
Rebecca Retzlaff, an associate professor at Auburn University’s Community Planning Program, spoke about the methods of planning for smart city growth such as design guidelines, zone ordinances and density bonuses.
Brittany Cannon Dement, Ethics and American Government Instructor at Southern Union State Community College, concluded the presentations by explaining the importance of maintaining government transparency and accountability. During her presentation, Dement referred to Birmingham’s Open Data Policy and Transaction Reports, both of which are accessible to citizens.
“We don’t have to just meet the standard that Alabama law requires,” Dement said. “Let’s set the standard.”
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Ron Anders Jr. and David Hill, both in the runoff for Auburn Mayor, were invited to the informational session and listened to the guest speakers’ presentations.
“These are all very relevant topics,” Hill said. “They’re at the center of what we have a lot of angst about concerning downtown development, but they also call us to think about other issues. We need these topics.”
“Transparency is something I feel very strongly about,” Anders said. “We immediately need to start filming and streaming our sessions, and the latest technology will allow us to do that.”
Cory Unruh, President of the League of Women Voters of East Alabama, explained why the issues discussed at the meeting are important to citizens and candidates.
“We put this event together to let the candidates know what’s important to us,” Unruh said. “We also really encourage citizens to talk to their city council members and representatives. When citizens want to see change in the city, this meeting will give them an idea where they can start.”
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