Cherry Hill Township does not need a series of town hall meetings. The township does not need to have additional town council meetings. Cherry Hill needs to begin a series of community meetings, in order to restore relations with the community.
Sure, let me better define that. The township needs to restore relations with those who regularly attend town council meetings, and those who ask the township’s leadership questions.
The Facebook group, Cherry Hill United, has regularly been citing issues on the page about what dialogue makes it into the minutes of a town council meeting. Some members of the Facebook group claim that a selection of public input allows the town council and mayor to proceed with what many consider to be predetermined plans for land use and ordinance changes. The group also charges that individuals who are connected to the township’s leadership or who may benefit from recreational funding are included in the minutes of a September 14th Budget hearing, voicing support of the budget.
Much of the combative relationships that appear to be held between the public and elected officials date back to the August 8th town council meeting which attracted several hundred residents, who unanimously opposed a zoning change. The council unanimously approved the zoning change.
A post on Wednesday in the Facebook group also alleged that members of the township council rebuked residents’ remarks as “misleading” and “Donald Trumpesque”.
These are allegations charged within a Facebook group that is populated by nearly two thousand people, therefore making it absolutely necessary for the township’s leadership to initiate a community meeting series.
The elected officials say one thing, but the residents are saying another, and the only time that either party is able to speak to one another, currently, is during the town council meetings. I haven’t gone to a town council meeting since August 8th, but if mannerisms remain the same as they were on that night, I’d err on the side of those within the Cherry Hill United Facebook group. But who knows for sure? And that is exactly the point! So how about we aggressively try to restore relations in order to better work together, unless we do not want to…?
The reason why the township needs community meetings instead of town hall meetings or more town council meetings, is mainly because of formatting. Elected officials need to be removed from behind a podium, and instead need be sitting in the same seating as residents. Everyone needs to be on the same level of authority for these meetings.
This series would be a great opportunity for the elected officials to squash any inaccuracies that they think the public may believe, and it is always good for the public to know their elected representatives a little better. For officials, this also may be a great way to prevent further PR issues, and who knows, maybe somebody will write about the courageous leadership initiatives the township is taking towards community legislating? Instant positive PR.
And most importantly, the public should be able to feel as though the legislators actually care about hearing from residents. The public shouldn’t get the vibe that these meetings are happening just because a primary, or general election is approaching. And ALL parties should do their best to remain focused on the issues, and refrain from indirect insults. That never encourages anyone to get anything accomplished.