By Alex Malm
Public Comment was once again a point of contention during the Monday night, April 10, Londonderry Town Council meeting.
State Rep. Kristene Perez spoke at the meeting and began by saying she took offense to how a Town Councilor acted following the public comment portion of the previous meeting, and comments made on how the meetings have been “run well.”
“I invite any member of the council to come to the state house to see how a great meeting is actually run,” Perez said.
She argued that the Speaker of the House wouldn’t allow anyone to act outside of decorum during a meeting.
“Never ever would the Speaker allow any member of the House or any member of leadership to disgrace the office like what was done by the council member at this last meeting,” Perez said.
Town Councilor, Jim Butler, who Perez was referring to said he wouldn’t be making an apology. “I will not apologize because what I said was the truth,” Butler said.
Butler said that people in the community don’t see all the emails they receive that “taunt them.”, “You will not get an apology from me. Period!” He added, “If you don’t like it, don’t vote for me next time, just don’t vote for me, I’m okay with that.”
Perez said that she didn’t necessarily have a problem with Butler standing up for anyone however, she said, the way it was done was “totally inappropriate.”
Newly elected Town Councilor, Ron Dunn, said he thinks the rhetoric during public comment could change. “I think we can all attack ideas, policies issues. I think we can all have a difference of opinion. But let’s not make it personal,” Dunn said. He said that ultimately he hopes to see people not making it personal during public comment. “I think we all have the right to speak our opinion to speak our own mind but personal attacks need to end. We can disagree on everything else but don’t make it personal,” Dunn said.
Second year Town Councilor, Chad Franz, had a prepared statement he read during public comment, saying public comment is a critical platform for members of the public to express their thoughts and concerns to the Town Council and gives them a chance to listen. He said that over the last few months, there has been heightened tension during the public comment sessions with some individuals “taking a more aggressive approach in addressing the council.”, “Sometimes as we saw in our last council meeting even council members may feel compelled to push back against unfounded attacks,” Franz said.
He said that the Town Council has taken some strides to be more transparent by having their roll call votes recorded in the minutes and adding video links as well for accessibility.
Franz said he felt the public comment was ultimately important for Council. “We welcome constructive feedback that better helps us serve our community,” Franz said.