Letter: Let public get on council agenda

Published 9:21 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Salisbury City Council meeting Tuesday contained passionate verbal exchanges between the mayor pro tem and the mayor regarding a few items on the agenda. One of these items was the Agenda Item Request Form.

Mayor Al Heggins revised the form at the beginning of her term to make the process of placing agenda items before the City Council transparent and efficient. The mayor has repeatedly referred to City Hall as “The People’s House” and, in that sentiment, revised the form by providing a title, condensing two forms into one, adding a box designated “Public” for citizens to place concerns directly before City Council for consideration, and a final section for the reason why an agenda item was approved or declined by the mayor.

The mayor commented that the final section was designed to facilitate, not control, the agenda process. Heated discussion followed and the item was tabled. Transparency, efficiency and,  I would add, accessibility to city governance by its citizens is at stake.

As a recent transplant to Salisbury from the Lone Star state of Texas, the pre-Revolutionary history of Salisbury has earned my respect. During the 17 months of my residency, I have heard stories about Revolutionary heroes who risked their lives for liberty and freedom from a tyrannical British monarchy.

Since 1753, individuals in Salisbury decided that they had the right and the responsibility to establish a local government that would provide them with adequate representation. They understood the difference between being a subject in a monarchy and a citizen in a democracy is representation.

Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the new nation would be. “A republic, if you can keep it,” was his response. Let’s keep “public” in Salisbury city business.

— Sharon Grant