Clinton citizens will have the opportunity to confront, congratulate, raise concerns or voice opinions about their neighborhoods and the rest of the community as another slate of district meetings are on tap that will once again bring Council members — and a comprehensive group of city staff and department heads — into districts throughout February and March.
District meetings, one for each of the five Clinton districts, intend to open the lines of communication between citizens and City Hall. They will be held at locations deemed convenient to each district in order to further encourage attendance.
That attendance has surged in the last few years, and city officials said they expect another good turnout.
City manager John Connet said city staff looks forward to the annual round of meetings, participation at which has grown in recent years. Often, the meetings can serve as an avenue to inform city staff of something about which they may be unaware, or bring a concern that could act as a catalyst for action.
“We look forward to these meetings each year,” said Connet. “We have seen increased participation and hope for a good turnout again this year.”
The district meetings begin on Feb. 21, with Steve Stefanovich’s District 1 meeting at the Beaman Street Fire Station, and conclude with District 3’s March 21 meeting at the City Hall Auditorium with Council member Marcus Becton (see related box for full schedule). All meeting times are 7 p.m.
Mayor Lew Starling has pointed to the district meetings as a great opportunity for citizens to express those concerns to Council and staff outside of regular monthly meetings. The district events have perennially turned the tables of typical City Council meetings to give residents a forum to be heard by their local representatives.
“The community meetings provide a great opportunity for citizens who do not typically come to monthly council meetings to express their concerns and provide us with feedback,” said Starling.
The City Council established the annual meetings several years back to provide citizens the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Council representatives and city staff. At each meeting, Connet and various members of city staff, as well as various department heads, review accomplishments, answer questions, address concerns and receive feedback from residents.
The mayor, the district Council member, members of city staff and all department heads — or a department representative — are present at each meeting. The format of the meetings begins with an introduction of all city officials and department heads, who then briefly review completed and ongoing projects in the city within their respective departments in the past year. The floor is then opened up to residents.
The mayor and City Council have always encouraged citizens to come and offer their ideas and express any concerns.
While city staff and department heads can regularly be reached at their offices or at regular meetings, the district meetings have served as another way for residents to come face-to-face with their Council representative and other city officials to voice concerns on what is affecting their neighborhoods, whether a zoning matter, police issue or another addressing the general quality of life.
By taking advantage of the forum, residents are not only looking out for their neighborhoods, but are helping departments do the same, city officials said.
Those with questions about their district, visit the “Mayor and City Council” page on the city website, at www.cityofclintonnc.com, or call City Hall at 910-592-1961.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.