Adopted legislation includes monthly public comment periods
StoryThe Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously adopted an ordinance refining the Council’s rules to provide for a monthly opportunity for members of the public to provide comment at Council meetings.
“Access to elected officials is the cornerstone of an effective and transparent government,” said Council Chair Larry Gossett. “This legislation simplifies the public comment process, setting clear guidelines and timelines for when the public can come tell us their concerns.”
“Government works best when the lines of communication between constituents and their elected officials are freely accessible,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer. “I am very pleased to support a measure that gives all our citizens the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns without restriction to specific legislation.”
Currently, the only opportunity the public has to speak directly to all the members of the Council is when the Council is conducting a public hearing before acting on legislation, and the public can only testify about the specific legislation.
“I always appreciate citizens who take the time and make the effort to share their comments with the King County Council,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “This additional public comment period adds another opportunity to the many others for community members to interact with their elected leaders, as well as letters, e-mail, public hearings, and telephone and fax messages. It is one more way we can make it convenient for citizens to communicate with their government.”
“As elected officials, we must be open and accessible to the people we represent so they can voice their opinions and concerns about important County issues,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, Chair of the Government Accountability, Oversight, and Financial Performance Committee.
“This new public comment period is another way we can hear from our constituents and ensure that County government is more open, transparent and responsive,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn.
The adopted ordinance amends the Council rules, creating a monthly 15-minute public comment period at the fourth Council meeting of the month. During this period, each speaker will have two minutes to address Councilmembers on matters relating to county government. The ordinance also clarifies that the time speakers will have cannot be used for:
• Addressing issues that are already on that day’s agenda for public hearing,
• The purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office,
• The promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition.
The public comment period meets one of the Council’s objectives in the recently adopted Equity and Social Justice work plan by increasing opportunities for the public to interact with the Council.