Let the people speak
Published 10:08 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017
We encourage the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors to tread lightly when considering refining its policy in regard to public comment during board meetings as they consider limiting comment to only those who live or own land in the county.
“I believe the board needs to hear from any person who respectively speaks to any item believed important to the county,” said Terry Ramsey, a resident of Charlotte Court House, during a committee meeting last week on the matter.
We agree with him.
We ask supervisors to consider the implications of denying non-residents from communicating their thoughts, feelings, concerns, compliments or complaints during public comment.
There are many stakeholders across the area whose voices deserve to be heard though their addresses may not be in Charlotte County.
There are various scenarios where this could be the case. One example might be a business owner who buys from a business in Charlotte County, but does not reside within county limits.
Though Charlotte is an independent jurisdiction from its neighboring counties, it is surrounded on all sides by counties which could be affected by decisions it makes or doesn’t make.
Counties, just like neighbors in a subdivision, are not exempt from those who live around them or the actions they take.
In order to work together, communication is key. Such is the case with those who may conduct business or travel frequently through Charlotte.
Though the intentions of limiting participation to only in-county residents may help give power to the voices of those who live and own land in the county, it is possible the repercussions of limiting free speech could be larger than anticipated.