Elected officials should seek to serve their constituents and prioritize participation. We concur with Scott Paul’s call to ensure access to the County Commissioner meetings for all Sussex County residents.
The pandemic has shined a light on the number of people in our county that want to be involved in political discussions. We saw an increase in voter turn out. We saw an increase in civic engagement at Board of Education Meetings (BOE), Town Council and Sussex County Commissioner Meetings as they now could attend on zoom. This increase in civic engagement should be embraced and encouraged by those elected to represent our needs. In the past we were limited in ways that we no longer are and there is no reason for us to go backwards. This pandemic saw a dramatic increase in the participation of those that are homebound, or those whose health would not allow them to physically attend meetings in person, or those that have kids to put to bed at night so are unable to attend in person. There are various reasons whether it be health, economic, or convenience that prevent people in our community from showing up in person but technology has solved this problem. At one point there were over 80 participants at the county commissioner meeting. Never before did we have so many members of the public as aware of what was happening in our county. With the change now not allowing any remote access the biggest issue in my mind is lack of accessibility for those populations. In contrast, the last in-person commissioner meeting had roughly 7 members of the public in attendance. My question to the commissioners is what do you plan to do about that? If Home Owners Associations (HOA’s) are offering hybrid options recognizing the needs of their residents why can’t our county commissioners? This is not about doing what is within the county commissioners “rights” to do, and it is not about whether or not we want to move on past the restrictions of the pandemic. We all do. What this is about is meeting the needs of your constituents and being committed to accessibility for all. I hope they reconsider and seek to meet the needs of all constituents by offering a hybrid option.