Galt City Manager Lorenzo Hines shared some exciting news during the COVID-19 update at Galt City Council’s June 1 meeting: In-person meetings might be coming back.
“We’re still keeping our fingers crossed for a live Council meeting on June 15,” Hines said. “We are currently working with the county to make sure that we are understanding their requirements.”
California is planning to remove most coronavirus restrictions statewide on June 15, which happens to be the date of Council’s next regular meeting. Hines said that, “at minimum,” masks would be required.
The Herald reached out to the City Council members for their thoughts on the planned return. Here are their responses.
Some comments have been lightly edited for spelling and length.
Mayor Shawn Farmer
It is important we return to live meetings because we need to lead by example, the same as opening City Hall up to the public. Is our city government less “essential” than a cashier at a Walmart? How can we send our children back to classrooms, or open sports programs, but then act like the “health and welfare” of city staff or Council is too important to meet in person? I will never ask anyone to do anything I am not willing to do myself. I have heard from many who do not watch meetings online or Zoom, but want to attend Council meetings and have access to their local government. We have a duty to serve and a duty to be available to these people. It’s time for our city to return to a sense of normalcy, and we as city leaders must set that example.
Vice Mayor Paul Sandhu
Eye to eye is much better than on Zoom. We asked the city manager to do his best to get us face to face. I like to be open. It’s better for the public to be able to come to the city offices and do their business face to face. I don’t like not being open.
Councilman Rich Lozano
I would first like to say I am excited at the possibility of returning to in-person meetings at City Hall where the community can come and engage the Council and city staff. Other than the ability to vote, there is no other civic act that we as free Americans can engage in than our participation in public government meetings. I have missed the in-person interaction with our community at our meetings and I hold it in the highest regard. I look forward to being able to meet with my colleagues, some who have never participated in an in person meeting as elected Council members. Lastly, it will be refreshing to have us all in the same room again, listening to our community, face to face. Galt City Council is the voice of the community.
Councilman Kevin Papineau
I think the evidence from other states that have opened up and declining case numbers leave no doubt that a return to normal is long overdue. I will definitely be glad to get back to the more effective and efficient communication and interaction of in-person meetings.
Councilman Jay Vandenburg
I am looking forward to having in-person meetings. The science clearly shows that it has been safe to open and it is important for all of us to see that life will get back to normal. There will still be some precautions in place for everyone at the meeting; however, we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully this will give the citizens a better opportunity to have their voices heard.