‘Our Town’ to return to Tallahassee

“Our Town” is making its third stop in Tallahassee on Thursday.

The initiative that seeks to turn old-fashioned meetings into 21st-century re-dos is coming back to Leon County.

At this more interactive town hall meeting, residents will have a chance to sit down with city and county commissioners and discuss topics important to the Tallahassee area.

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Center, these “unique” gatherings will allow attendees to bring a snack and sit in for a neighborly conversation.

“I’ve heard of town hall meetings becoming a bit rowdy,” said Brianna Hayes, a third-year business student from Miami. “So I believe ‘Our Town’ is a genius idea. Food and a friendly conversation with our leaders, it can’t get any better.”

According to The Village Square, civility and use of differing opinions will positively impact and strengthen the community while residents, taxpayers and voters remain informed on the issues impacting Leon County.

Liz Joyner, executive director for The Village Square, said the twist on the standard town hall meetings has created a positive, open and interactive atmosphere between citizens and local leaders.

“In Tallahassee, the main way that people can interact with public officials is to go testify in front of one of the committees,” Joyner said. “They get three minutes. They get to talk, and it’s really not an interaction. So there’s really not a lot of constructive energy between citizens and elected officials, and the series has helped with that.”

“Our Town” will feature Tallahassee city commissioners Andrew Gillum, Scott Maddox, Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer. The Leon County commissioners include John Dailey, Bryan Desloge, Kristin Dozier, Mary Ann Lindley and Nick Maddox.

Maddox is participating in “Our Town” because he wants citizens to know he cares about the issues that affect them every day.

“I believe it is my duty to be open and available to the residents of this county, and participating in ‘Our Town’ provides me with an additional opportunity to be accessible,” Maddox said. “This is an excellent opportunity for people to interact in an informal and civil manner with elected officials and gain a deeper understanding of the economic and political issues facing our community.”

Paul Flemming, politics and policy editor for the Tallahassee Democrat will moderate the forum, which will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church. It’s free and open to the public. However, pre-registration is required to reserve a seat.