Friday, October 17, 2014

Commissioners to host public forum

Broyles, left, Ownby, right
Knox County commissioners Amy Broyles and Jeff Ownby will begin hosting regular community forums that give the public the opportunity to ask questions about local government, and let officials collect input on current issues.

The first one is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at West High School’s small auditorium. The two said they expect state Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, to attend. But, they said at this point they do not expect her Republican opponent in the Nov. 4 election – Eddie Smith – to be there.

Ownby said he reached out to his campaign and was told he had something else scheduled.
The plan, according to the commissioners, will be to host the meetings either monthly or bi-monthly in various districts across the county.

Broyles said the two got the idea during a National Association of Counties meeting they attended in Washington, D.C. this past spring. At the time, they were told by some Florida officials that the forums were a big draw when jointly hosted by Democrats and Republicans who sit on the same board.

Broyles is a Democrat, and Ownby is a Republican.

“It’s more like a town hall style where the public can come in and ask questions about county business and we can offer our perspectives,” said Broyles. “I think it’s a great thing to do.”
Ownby agreed.

“It will get some questioned answered,” he said. “A lot of people can’t make regular meetings, so this is a chance for them to be able to talk about concerns and issues that don’t always get airplay. It also gives them a chance to bring us issues and let us get out in front of them.”

Broyles said since the first meeting runs concurrently with early voting, they wanted to bring in a number of candidates in state races.

In addition to the 13th District race that features Johnson and Smith, they plan to ask 7th District state Senate candidates Cheri Siler, a Democrat, and Richard Briggs, a Republican, to come.

Broyles and Ownby said they will hammer out more details in the coming days.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Broyles said. “I enjoy working with Jeff even though, politically, we are often at the opposite spectrum on a number of political issues. But, I think this is a good thing for the commission and I think it’s providing a good public service.”

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