Would time change make a difference?

Published 1:48 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

Earlier this week, two local citizens stepped forward to ask the Troup County Commission to change its meeting time to an hour where more people could regularly attend.

It’s not the first time that discussion has come up, and it’s likely not the last.

However, when Pat Darden, who chairs the Troup County Democratic Committee, and Ernest Ward, the former Troup County NAACP President, spoke at Tuesday’s commission meeting, it brought the idea up for debate once again.

Darden and Ward raised some legitimate points, arguing that 9 a.m. meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays are difficult for anyone who works a normal, 8 to 5 job to attend. That’s true, as most people probably have more free time in the evenings than at 9 a.m.

However, the commission also raised points of its own.

Last year, the commission proved it was cognizant of this issue, as it held evening meetings in Hogansville and West Point, giving citizens in those communities a chance to voice their opinions and to hear their local leaders debate issues.

We’re not saying that’s enough, and unlike local city councils, the commission has a large area it is responsible for. Commission meetings are traditionally held in LaGrange, the largest of the three local cities, but that doesn’t make it easy for someone from out in the county to make the meetings.

The commission should continue to explore ways to make it easier for people to attend its meetings. After all, the commission is elected by the public and represents the public, so its meetings should be as accessible as possible.

Does that mean having more of its meetings outside of LaGrange? Possibly. Does it mean changing its meeting times for good or occasionally? Perhaps.

However, we also think it’s important that the public actually show up to the meetings. Regardless of the time — 9 a.m., 5 p.m. or midnight — if people don’t actually show up, none of these possible changes matter.

There are important public meetings in our community every week with low turnout, which is a shame. Part of our job is to report on those meetings, a job we don’t take lightly, but they are open to the public so that people can speak up and know what’s going on.

If the commission chose to change its meeting time and didn’t see a difference in public participation, then what good did a change do?

Any idea that allows the public more accessibility is worth exploring, but the public has to do its part as well.