City Council to hold off-site meetings and community open houses
The events will be held at local elementary schools on Feb. 13 and 27, and March 13 and 27.
The Walla Walla City Council holds its regular meetings in its chambers in Walla Walla City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave. However, the Council Chambers will be undergoing renovation during February and March, so the Council will meet off site at local schools during these months.
The meetings will be held on these dates in the cafeterias of these schools, which were selected to represent the four wards in the city:
• Feb. 13: Green Park Elementary School, 1105 E. Isaacs Ave.
• Feb. 27: Walla Walla High School, 800 Abbott Road
• March 13: Blue Ridge Elementary School, 1150 W. Chestnut St.
• March 27: Edison Elementary School, 1315 E. Alder St.
The meetings begin at 7 p.m., and are free and open to the public. They are opportunities for attendees to see how Council members work to represent Walla Walla residents, and observe how the City makes decisions that impact the town.
"The work on the Council Chambers has provided an opportunity not only to move some Council meetings out into different areas of the city, but also to help everyone understand our new ward-based election system,” said Mayor Barbara Clark. “I hope we’ll see some new faces at the meetings."
For an hour before each of these Council meetings, beginning at 6 p.m., the City of Walla Walla will host an open house in the gymnasium of the school where the meeting is taking place. These are opportunities for members of the public to meet representatives from the City Council and each of the City’s departments; to learn about what the departments and officials do to serve Walla Walla’s residents, businesses and stakeholders; and to to find out about ways residents can help influence the city’s present and future by serving on boards and committees.
The open houses and free, family-friendly and open to the public. Limited Spanish interpretation will be available at the open houses, and light refreshments will be provided.
At the open houses, attendees can also learn more about Walla Walla’s ward election system. 2019 marks the first time City Council members will be elected based on wards; this year, voters will elect candidates to represent the West and East wards, plus two at-large members. In 2021, members will be elected to represent the North and South wards, plus one at-large member.
Current Council members and former candidates will be present to discuss the ward election system, and talk about city government and what is involved in serving on the Council.
Walla Walla County Elections Supervisor David Valiant will be on hand to explain how elections work, and how people who are interested in becoming a Council member or can file to run for office. He will have registration forms available for citizens wanting to register to vote.
“Scavenger hunt” forms will be distributed at each open house. Questions on the forms prompt attendees to speak with City representatives to find answers related to the election system, the City of Walla Walla and the City Council, and provide space for residents to give feedback to the City about their neighborhood. Completed forms can be put in a drawing for a Grab-N-Go emergency-preparedness kit, which will be awarded just before the Council meeting begins.
The Sherwood Trust board provided a $5,000 grant to the City of Walla Walla to support these efforts to engage the community.
“Sherwood Trust welcomes the City’s commitment to increasing the involvement of area residents in city government by conducting outreach into neighborhoods. We encourage residents to join one (or more) of the upcoming City Council neighborhood sessions to learn more about the new electoral system and ways that residents can contribute to city government and the decisions that affect everyone’s well-being,” said Sherwood Trust CEO Danielle Garbe Reser.
“Sherwood Trust’s vision is that everyone in the Walla Walla Valley has a sense of belonging and contributes to a thriving region. Residents can help their communities thrive by participating in municipal government, whether by attending a city council meeting, voting, serving on a committee, or running for office,” Garbe Reser said.