Editorial: Open comments at public meetings

Boulder Daily Camera: I first spoke in front of the BVSD School board in 2019 over my concern about August classrooms with interior temperatures of up to 90 degrees. I asked why, five years after voters approved a BVSD bond measure for capital construction projects, including adding air conditioning to schools, this was allowed and acceptable. None of the board members reacted or responded to me. This, I would learn, was the status quo. It was also incredibly dismissive. However, I continued to speak at school board meetings over the years. It was important to me to vocalize my opinion about school management, regardless of the reaction I got.

Public participation is a cornerstone of democracy. Public comment periods exist at all levels of government for a reason: without hearing directly from the people, authorities are apt to decide in favor of their own biases. I’m not naive enough to think that simply having public comment periods sways officials away from their biases. But it might.

Elected officials have to balance myriad competing needs. They must be able to take in a lot of information in sometimes a short amount of time before making consequential decisions. Hearing from a broad cross-section of the community should encourage an interrogation of their own stance. Would it be considerate of the elected boards and councils to acknowledge each constituent with a simple thanks? Of course.

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