Town halls planned for South Kent

The Chatham Daily News - - NEWS - TOM MOR­RI­SON

Mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil­lors in South Kent have turned to a more tra­di­tional way of en­gag­ing con­stituents through­out their term – the town-hall meet­ing.

Ward 2 Coun. Trevor Thomp­son said he had thought about hosting these events for a while so, soon after the Oc­to­ber mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, he met with his col­leagues Clare La­timer and An­thony Cec­ca­cci, both rook­ies on council, to dis­cuss the idea.

“It was some­thing they were very in­ter­ested in as well so, at that point, it just be­came try­ing to fig­ure out the de­tails,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to en­cour­age trans­parency and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I think the on­line way that we do it these days is good, but not ev­ery­body uses it or not ev­ery­body gets a chance to get that one-on-one con­nec­tion.”

The meetings will be held quar­terly at the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Branch 185 in Blen­heim be­gin­ning Feb. 12, fol­lowed by May 7, Aug. 6 and Nov. 5. All four events will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Thomp­son, who was elected to his second term, said vot­ers did not specif­i­cally ask for a town­hall fo­rum, but there has been a push for more con­ver­sa­tions.

He said since he works full-time jobs, he can’t be the “cof­fee-shop coun­cil­lor” oth­ers have been.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity to bring some of that one-on-one con­ver­sa­tion into the work I do and, at the same time, bring all of the coun­cil­lors to­gether to get more of a non-par­ti­san – I’ll put it – ap­peal,” he said.

The first few meetings will prob­a­bly have an in­for­mal ap­proach, said Thomp­son. Mu­nic­i­pal staff may be in­vited to other meetings if res­i­dents ask to hear them speak on a cer­tain issue, he said.

Thomp­son said they chose to have all of the town halls in Blen­heim be­cause it is a “cen­tral” lo­ca­tion in the ward, but they could be held in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties such as Erieau and Char­ing Cross in 2020 if the de­mand is there.

“It’s a re­ally good op­por­tu­nity to learn what’s go­ing on in the ward for us and it’s a good op­por­tu­nity for res­i­dents to learn what’s go­ing on with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” said Thomp­son. “I’m ex­cited to get this up and off the ground. I hope we get some trac­tion in the com­mu­nity be­cause, if we don’t, it will stag­nate and that’s not what I want to hap­pen”

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