While City Council meetings offer residents an opportunity to address Mayor Ron Anders and the eight members of the Council, citizens also have opportunities outside of the biweekly Counil meetings. Council members hold ward meetings, which have been held in Auburn since 2014, to discuss ward-related issues with constituents of the eight wards in Auburn.
Council members conduct those meetings at their own discretion. Ward 2 Council Member Kelley Griswold holds monthly meetings to create an arena for conversation.
“I think it shows I have a legitimate concern for what goes on in our community,” Griswold said. “It helps me gauge the community and hear from the citizens what they feel is a concern.”
Social media plays a major role in getting the word out about the meetings, he said.
“I typically post notices about Ward 2 meetings on Facebook and the Nextdoor app,” Griswold said. “The City also posts an e-notice about the meeting on their meeting schedule, which is available online.”
Griswold said he likes to keep his community engaged by inviting guest speakers to the meetings.
Griswold has had members of the local government, such as Assistant City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch, appear at ward meetings.
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“Sometimes, it’s easier for the citizens to understand aspects of government when they hear it from those in the positions,” Griswold said. “I try to get speakers as much as the City can send someone down.”
Griswold, who said he sees a steady crowd of 30 to 40 citizens monthly, said he thinks the public has given great feedback about the ward meetings.
Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten has taken a different approach to ward meetings. She hosts them when there is an issue necessary for public discussion.
“Ward meetings are an opportunity to touch base in person,” Witten said. “They help create an interpersonal relationship between myself and the constituents, allowing the communication of the wants, desires and needs for Ward 3.”
Though they are not regularly scheduled, Witten said she sees familiar faces in every meeting, which 30 to 40 people regularly attend.
In addition to Facebook and the Nextdoor app, Witten uses email and homeowner’s associations in Ward 3 neighborhoods as a way to get the word out about a meeting.
While Witten receives positive feedback from ward meetings, she said some ward meetings may need better direction.
“Ward meetings need to have a direction and purpose to make better use of our constituents time,” Witten said.
Citizens can check for more information about upcoming meetings on the City of Auburn Facebook page and can also check the City’s website.
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