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Angelica Zambrano, wearing a black top, sits with her arms folded in front of a laptop at a table in a coffee shop.

People of Richmond: Should council meetings be strictly in person?

on September 11, 2023

“People of Richmond” is a regular series in which reporters pose a question to people in the community. Answers are presented verbatim, though sometimes edited for brevity

Q: Should Richmond City Council return to holding meetings only in person?

“It’s a tough question, just because people can’t be exposed to COVID. It’s a good thing to have social settings, but maybe if there’s different ways to hold these meetings, that would be best.”

(Angelica Zambrano, social media manager, pictured at top)

Head and shoulders shot of Diego Garcia, smiling broadly, waring a black sweater, a tattoo slightly visible on his right forearm.

“I think they need to continue with both, only because not everybody has the access to go there, or has the transportation means to go to physical meetings. If you are in the comfort of your home and you want to listen at the same time to see what is going on without actually being there and you can comment, I think people should do that.” (Diego Garcia – CEO)

“In person would be better. People are more likely to talk to each other and
actually come to a solution.”

(Jennifer Graham)

“I think they should come back to full council in person. It just seems more like an effective meeting. Remote meetings have worked but there doesn’t need to be any more remote meetings.” (Chris Mullin, job coach)

Chris Mullin with short dark hair, bushy dark eyebrows and wide grin, sits on a concrete bench with flowers in the background and walking stick by his left hand, wearing a navy blue and green T-shirt with the words: Man eating mermaids of pirate's cove

Adella Garboos, in white T-shirt with an image of people reading in a park in Victorian clothing, stands in an office in front of a board that says "Anne Wolfe's Enough Considered."

“Yes, I think more gets done when everybody’s in the room.” (Adella Garboos, operations director)

“I think what we would like is to involve as many people in this city in putting out their opinion and decision making as possible. And with the rise again in COVID, having the hybrid meetings seems to me to be something we encourage.”

(Jeff Ritterman, retired cardiologist)

A couple stand together, the man's right hand across the woman's right shoulder, she in a green cap, glasses and gray shirt, he in a Star Wars zip-up jacket and sunglasses and dark hair.

“I think a hybrid model is probably the best kind of way forward. … I think sometimes what happens with City Council is it tends to be only, like, select parts of the population that are able to attend those meetings due to the time of day, the time of the week, et cetera. And to be able to have multiple options of in-person and virtual can allow for more of the city of Richmond to actually experience the day-in and day-out things of the council and what’s happening.” (BreeAnn Crofts, food scientist, pictured left)

“I think that doing it in person allows the public to actually face them face to face. But also I understand that doing it over like Zoom or something allows a lot more accessibility so people don’t have to make the time to leave, to go somewhere; recordings are easily made and distributed… But I do think the public access portion of that in person is super important.” (Sam Culbertson, fermentation scientist, right)

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  1. Don Gosney on September 19, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    Returning to ‘in-person’ meetings would be great. Being able too converse and network with your neighbors has so many advantages.

    Nevertheless, a lot of our neighbors have become accustomed to being able to watch the meetings from the comfort of their homes.

    It’s tough to tell our neighbors that they might lose access to these meetings because they will be required to attend in person.

    Most people are unaware that the City is still restricting the number of persons in the chambers to only 39. This count is supposed to include the members of the Council, staff and the public. [I’m at the Council meeting right now and there are 18 Council and staff members in the room.]

    There are only 35 chairs set up for the public.

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