On November 6, 2017, I spoke at a City Council meeting (if you would like more information related to the topic of my presentation, please contact me via my website).
This City Council meeting occurred the night before the general election. Prior to this meeting, I timely and properly placed my name on the meeting agenda, so that I could have three (3) minutes of time to address my concerns with the Council.
After I spoke, and returned to my seat, our current Mayor made a comment that my presentation was “nothing but political grandstanding.” When I attempted to address the Mayor’s comments that were directed at me and my presentation, I was told I would not be recognized. I then stopped, pointed my finger at the Mayor, and stated “You cannot say that because you cannot back it up.” At this point, the Mayor had me removed from Council Chambers by two City Police Officers. The Mayor later stated to me that pointing my finger at him was an “aggressive act.”
After leaving Chambers, I quietly whispered an expletive to the Police Officer. At no time was I disrespectful to the Police Officer; rather, I only asked for his name. The Officer was kind enough to provide me his contact information. I left without incident.
Some may question why I would even mention this incident on my own campaign website. Well, the truth is, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain what happened on November 6, 2017 without any political campaign groups clouding the events of that night.
I consider myself a passionate person, and I value my right to speak up for myself and what I believe in. But, I also value my neighbors’ ability to do so, even if those beliefs are different than my own. This is a disappointing example of the current culture of our City Council and how differing opinions are not tolerated and even ridiculed. Such behavior has recently, unfortunately, received publicity on social media (i.e., YouTube) and the local news. Regrettably, unless the culture is changed, the same scenario that occurred on November 6, 2017 could happen to another City resident.
In my opinion, a resident of this City should feel comfortable to go to a City Council meeting and present his or her concerns, without fear of being disrespected, named-called or, even worse, evicted from the meeting. The City Council meetings should be an opportunity for the residents and decision-makers of this City to come together, in a collaborative effort, to make decisions to help make this City better.
Am I saying that the City Council should always agree with what a resident says or expresses at these meetings? No. This was clearly the case on November 6, 2017. But, I expect that all residents of this City are treated with respect and given the platform to speak about their concerns and opinions. This City needs to be a place of inclusivity, not exclusivity.
For our City to maximize our future growth, both City Council and the Residents must work together, respecting each other’s opinions and ideas.
Respectful of Oviedo’s Past…Focused on Oviedo’s Future.