City commission returns to in-person meetings

The mayor, city commissioners and citizens are seated to begin the City Commission meeting. Photo courtesy

The Tallahassee City Commission held its regular meeting in person on Wednesday, the commission’s first non-virtual event in more than six months.

Due to ongoing public health concerns, there were three options for sharing public comments:

In-person at the meeting, provide comments during the meeting via video conference or written via online submission.

Mayor John Daily began the meeting by acknowledging Wednesday’s session as the first meeting in person since the start of the pandemic in late February.

There were safety measures put in place along with social distancing and a strict mask mandate. 

Due to COVID-19, masks and social distancing weren’t the only changes that had to be made. “Today starts the first of a new way we take public comment. From this time forward we will be taking comments both in-person, virtually and over the phone. We must allow the public to participate in these meetings and we’re going to do it to the best of their ability,” Dailey said. 

Following agenda modifications and special presentation, the citizen input began. Residents present in the chambers were the first to be heard from. Three minutes are given for each speaker.

“Normally we allow you to speak as each item arises but for a better flow we’re going to have everyone make their comments at the beginning of the meeting,” James Cooke, the treasurer clerk, said. 

Stanley Sims, the first of six in-person speakers, told the commission  he was pleased with what the mayor and staff have done. 

“I’m excited to see low-income housing come to our areas. We need housing for someone who makes minimum wage. They can live there, work 40 hours and pay their light bill. That’s what I call low-income housing, and I am very pleased that Tallahassee is doing that,” Sims said.

Jeff Blare, the first virtual speaker, began by saying he is pleased to be able to stay safe from the comfort of his home and share his comments. 

“I hope the city intends to continue real-time virtual comments, whether meetings are being held virtually or in person. This is a big issue for me and a lot of others. We have been advocating since April that this be the case,” he said. 

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in nationwide, Tallahassee is taking precautions to protect its citizens.