Elkins city clerk responds to poll on ‘Brunch Bill’

I’d like to take a moment to respond to the editorial published in The Inter-Mountain on Sept. 12 regarding Elkins City Council’s final approval of the “Brunch Bill.”

Let me start by saying that the city appreciates what The Inter-Mountain provides to the community as a whole, and to our organization, and we recognize their journalistic obligation and right to express their opinion. This letter is in no way intended as a retaliation to the aforementioned article. More in fact as a public service announcement and means to educate and engage our citizenry.

I can’t speak to how frequently or by which methods individual council members interact with and gather information from their constituency, I’m sure they are all different. However, I can offer insight into the participation rates of municipal elections, committee meetings and common council meetings — it is low. My point is that local government is the most accessible form of government we have in the United States, and it is highly underutilized. Offering input and opinions is essential for representative government, but the effective time for this is prior to decision-making as opposed to after the fact.

As a specific example, the “Brunch Bill” has been a topic of discussion inside and outside of City Hall for 10 months now. The city’s Home Rule Amendment application, which included a request to the Home Rule Board for authority to pass a “Brunch Bill” ordinance, first appeared on a council agenda Nov. 17, 2016 and since has been discussed by Elkins Common Council seven times, including a public hearing held June 1.

In addition, the “Brunch Bill” was considered on at least two occasions by the Rules and Ordinances Committee and ultimately recommended from this committee to council to both be included in the Home Rule Amendment and subsequently to be approved by ordinance.

It’s not my intention to scold or identify fault, simply to ask those who take the time to read and answer polls about issues facing our city and decisions being made by its council, to take a few extra moments and type an email to, call or sit down with your elected representative; attend a committee or council meeting; vote in the next city election; or otherwise offer constructive and timely input on matters that are important to and affect you the most.

Information about all aspects of Elkins’ government are available on our website, www.cityofelkinswv.com, including council contacts, committee meeting dates and times and council meeting dates, times, agendas and minutes. Also, feel free to call or stop by City Hall at any time. We are here to serve you.

Jessica Sutton

Elkins City Clerk

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