Mayor rates town hall meeting as a beneficial communications tool

Mayor Debe Hollingsworth thinks citizens should have an opportunity to converse directly with their political leaders. That’s why she’s pleased that her first-ever town hall meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday in at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for citizens to arrange a face-to-face visit or even a telephone conversation with their council representatives or mayor, and elected officials often have challenging schedules as well,” she said. “That’s why I’m excited about the initiation of these town hall meetings. The public needs to be able to speak to us, and we need to be able to hear their concerns and discuss issues with them. I want my administration to be transparent on matters within our city.”

To kick off what she hopes will be a monthly affair, Hollingsworth will deliver her 2013 state of the city address to start the meeting. Citizens can register to speak as they arrive, and be able to express opinions to or ask questions of the mayor and participating aldermen.

Hollingsworth said a time limit will be imposed on public speakers so as to allow all persons who wish to comment to have that opportunity.

“We want to hear everyone, but we also realize that we’ll have to conduct the meetings in a manageable time frame,” she said. “But we’ll make certain everything is arranged as it should be as we progress.”

Hollingsworth said she believes the forums will serve to strengthen the bonds among the elected leaders themselves as well as with their constituents.

“Nothing beats open communication,” she said. “I sincerely believe that these town hall meetings can contribute to our city’s positive growth.”