Living Democracy

Attending first city council meeting informs, inspires

Image of Town Hall sign“I call for a vote.”

“All opposed say nay.”

“Motion carried.”

These are the typical phrases one would expect to hear at any city council meeting.

On Monday, May 16, I attended my first city council meeting. The meeting demonstrated local politics in action.

I attended the meeting in the Collinsville Town Hall with library director Jennifer Wilkins. The lobby area was decorated with the American flag, Alabama state seal and the Alabama flag.

The meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. with a brief prayer, pledge and roll call. All seven members were present with five board members, one town clerk, and of course one town Mayor.

Council members David Bowen, Jeff Chandler, Kathy Jelks, Janet Osborn, and Fred Shankles, along with town clerk Peggy Wright and Mayor Johnny Traffanstedt, were ready to get to the business at hand.

The first order of business to address was brought up by the mayor. Traffanstedt announced a “Sewer and Storm Drainage” grant that he believed would benefit the town. He also informed the Council about a “Land and Water” grant that could provide funds to bring new activities such as a splash pad for children.

Once the grant ideas were discussed, it came time for a vote. All board members voted yes.  “Motion carried,” said Traffanstedt.

In that moment, I had witnessed what most people only get to see on television. The act of listening to city council members deliberate on a topic and then vote showed me Collinsville’s elected officials really do believe in their town.

Following the discussion of the grants, a report on municipal court cases was next on the agenda. There were 375 new cases for that month. Peggy Wright, Collinsville town clerk, announced there were DUI, marijuana, public intoxication and domestic violence cases. 

Wright then gave the financial report for the town as of March 31, 2016. Officials next heard from Collinsville police officer Green. He announced the police force was in the process of being fitted for new “outer carrier vests” with zippers.    

A final matter to discuss at this meeting was the revenue from the past week’s Highway 11 yard sale and cookout.  David Bowen, assistant chief at Collinsville’s fire department, gave the financial report of this year’s annual sale. Bowen said, “We didn’t lose money, but we didn’t make any either. But, it was a good weekend.”

After the meeting, I realized just how much work goes on behind the scenes. It takes precise planning for a town to operate smoothly, and I felt lucky to have gotten the opportunity to sit in on a meeting.

I think all citizens should get involved and attend their town meetings because it is smart to stay politically connected. One may never know when a little background knowledge and experience in local government can come in handy.

Alabama state sealThere is also no greater power than being an informed individual. I felt proud to have attended the meeting because I could see the officials want what is best for their town. I left feeling hopeful for what is to come in the future and thankful to be in Collinsville this summer.

Attending this meeting has inspired me to get more involved in the official meetings of my own hometown and at Auburn University.

Last Updated: May 25, 2016