While we sat in Kenan Stadium on July 4, waiting for the fireworks display to begin, I was struck by the diversity of the crowd. Not just in race and ethnicity, but in age range and social group – families of mom-dad-kids, grandma-mom-kids, dad-kids, and other mixes; teenagers with their friends; senior citizens in male-female pairs and same-sex or mixed-gender clusters. The crowd could have been lifted directly from a free New York Philharmonic concert in Central Park. It did my heart good.
And I am similarly pleased that the Town Council is not always voting in ways we’ve come to expect. It used to be that when I looked at the agenda, I could fairly accurately pick who would vote which way. But in the June 21 meeting in particular, council members spoke up for and against items in ways that surprised me.
Matt Czajkowski assertively holding town manager Roger Stancil accountable for providing information to council members about selecting a site for the homeless shelter. I gather staff is sometimes lackadaisical about filling council requests for information.
Laurin Easthom likewise insisting that information she requested from staff be delivered, and her new willingness to be the lone holdout on votes as she stands up for her constituents.
Gene Pease turning into a wild card in terms of whom he will throw in his lot with.
Mark Kleinschmidt siding with Czajkowski on some issues.
Jim Ward going over the consent agenda with a fine-tooth comb and voicing concern over the money spent on hybrid buses that have a lifespan of about 12 years. Perhaps he’ll join us in a decade at a booth at the library coffee shop he voted for to ponder how to pay for a new fleet of buses that now cost about $500,000 each.
Even town attorney Ralph Karpinos offered legal counsel on several points.
I know the council meetings run longer than many members and citizens alike prefer. But to hear issues being debated on their merits with very few personal jabs or snide tones of voices is a huge step in the right direction. For that alone, the last council meeting of the year ended on a high note.
– Nancy Oates