Dave McKane’s resignation from the Keizer City Council brings up issues that need to be addressed by this mayor and this council.
In his resignation letter to Mayor Lore Christopher he stated that “allowing the public to address the city council meetings…does not necessarily mean the council is listening to them.” That sentiment has been echoed recently by some of those who have appeared before the council.
The council has been criticized publicly by organizers of Keep Keizer Livable and by Dave Bauer over the issue of the council not listening to the citizens. Kevin Hohnbaum of Keep Keizer Livable says his group has faced an unlistening council for several years. In April Bauer told the council they have a tendency to interrogate or even attack the views of residents testifying during public hearings. “If the person is disagreeing with the council, the mayor or council is always trying to justify their position on the topic,” he said.
The council should have listened to those words. It has, in part, led to the resignation of a good councilor. Responses from the public since McKane’s resignation letter and airing of email exchanges between the councilor and the mayor became public give credence to those who say this council too often does what it wants.
McKane stated that he is convinced that the city council has no interest in any opinion that is not in lockstep with their own. If the public feels their views are not being heeded by those who represent them, the city has a problem. Reasonable people can disagree but when they feel their voices fall on deaf ears, the result will be a loss of confidence in the council.
The mayor and the councilors are elected to do the city’s business on the behalf of Keizer’s citizens. With a growing chorus of discontent from the public it is a trend that needs to be nipped in the bud; the council has an image problem but more importantly it has a listening problem.