A Letter from Councilor Webb

Posted by Dale Webb, City Councilor on Feb 26, 2021

How can I be heard by my city council?  The easiest way is to email us directly at our council email addresses on the city of Vernonia’s website at https://www.vernonia-or.gov/government/city-council/  after that you can reach out to us via phone. We may prompt you to call us directly.  Please do not feel offended if we direct you to talk to staff about your issue. Understand, we can not discuss city issues on social media because of public records laws, and if several councilors respond that can turn into an illegal public meeting. 

Understand that many issues will need to be solved by staff, the city council only has authority to resolve issues as a body, not as individuals. The city council sets policy and provides guidance to staff.  Please reach out to the city staff first with your issue to see if they can help you.  If your issue is more in line with a city policy that you feel the city is not conforming to or one that may need to be changed and staff indicates you would need to approach the council about that need, then would be a good time to reach out to the council and Mayor.

Another issue that citizens should understand is that if you are related to one of the councilors or Mayor, they may be more limited to help you than an unrelated councilor.  Oregon conflict of interest laws makes it illegal for a related councilor to vote or influence a vote that could be beneficial or detrimental to you.

Citizens may want to comment on city issues that are before the city council at our scheduled meetings.  Currently, with the COVID-19 virus, our meetings are being held virtually, so you will need to contact the city recorder before the meeting to sign up to give testimony. We have a “topics from the floor” agenda time near the beginning of the meeting.  If you have signed up, the city recorder will prompt the council that there are topics from the floor, and then she will call upon you and unmute your microphone.  We allow five minutes of testimony from the floor.  If you are interested in a subject on our agenda, you can sign up to testify and indicate that you want to reserve your right to speak when the agenda item is brought before the council.  You can also ask to speak after the council has deliberated, but before they vote so that your testimony is encompassing what the councilors have discussed.  Again, testimony is limited to five minutes.  Information on how to attend these meetings is posted on the meeting agenda and the city calendar.

Once the council begins meeting in person again, you can sign up to give testimony before the meeting starts by using the sign-up slips provided at a table near the north entrance into council chambers.  Remember to indicate if you want to speak on an agenda item.  You can speak to an agenda item either from the topics from the floor or reserve your right to speak later when the agenda item is discussed. These slips need to be submitted to the City Recorder before the start of the meeting.

Tips for giving citizen testimony, keep your testimony concise and to the point.  If you have evidence you wish to submit, please make seven copies and present them to the city recorder.  Please speak to the council as a whole and refrain from approaching the council.  A lectern is provided and please use it as your place to present to the council.

We encourage our constituents to keep us informed if there are issues in our city that we need to address.  We especially like to hear new viewpoints and possible solutions. It is always a good idea to indicate a possible solution if you present a problem to the council.  Relax and feel welcomed into our meetings, we are all neighbors in our little town in the woods.