Archived Story

Presence speaks volumes

Published 9:03pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

At almost every Beaufort County Board of Commissioners meeting or Washington City Council, many of the same people show up, but most of them are county or city employees such as the county attorney or the city’s planning director.

Then there are the few folks — too few, in our opinion — in the audience who are residents affected by a city or a county. They tend to be on the plus side of 50 years old. They can define “civics.”

They are doing what more city and/or county residents should do — being involved in local government. They may not say a word during a meeting, but by being at such meetings they are educating themselves. People who educate themselves about their local governments become educated voters and residents who know what their local governments are doing or not doing.

Although media reports pass on much information about what the commissioners and council are doing, those folks who attend meetings of local governing bodies get a more complete picture, a bigger picture, regarding what those local governments are doing or not doing.

From time to time, those Joe Publics and Jane Publics ask questions or make remarks at council meetings or commissioners meetings. Those questions and remarks often provide a barometer of how the public, or at least a segment of the public, feels about an issue or a proposal. Sometimes a resident raises a question or concern that members of a governing body have not considered. Sometimes a resident is just blowing off steam, and there’s nothing wrong with letting elected officials know how one feels.

In recent weeks, several residents attending meetings have asked questions and/or made observations about issues such as local governments providing economic-development incentives, where to located a new county jail and if the city and/or county should be involved fiscally with any effort to revive the Turnage Theater.

The more Joe Publics and Jane Publics who use their ears to listen and understand and voices to make their thoughts known, the better off local governments, the public and they will be.

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