Marshfield aldermen override veto, resume meetings
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – For the second time in as many weeks, Marshfield aldermen have agreed to start holding city meetings again.
The common council voted 9-1 on April 21 in favor of resuming city council and committee meetings. The motion gives those uncomfortable meeting in person the option to attend or participate remotely. But Alder Tom Witzel said those who feel comfortable meeting in person should have that option as well.
“I look around at the images that are on the screen right now,” he said. “I know that I have some colleagues that are maybe in slightly-concerning states of health, where maybe a potential pandemic situation may cause some concerns. I guess I would say if we could meet in person, if we feel comfortable meeting in person, we should; but, if those members of those committees don’t want to meet in person and would rather call in, I think that that needs to be an option.
“You know, I’m calling in remotely to this meeting right now, and I’m hearing a whole lot of stuff, feedback, background noise – all sorts of other things that make it quite difficult; I think, to do my elected duty, so that’s why I think in the future I will be in person as much as possible. Again, if I were to be concerned of my health or my possibility of causing ill to someone else I would choose to come in remotely. But I think that this is an important thing. We do need to be doing our jobs as elected officials.”
The motion to resume meetings came after the council voted 8-2 to override a veto by Mayor Bob McManus of the council’s original motion on April 14 to start meeting again. Alder Mike Feirer voted against both the motion and the override, stating that the council should not be sending mixed messages to the public, who’ve been told by city and state leaders to practice social distancing, and stay home whenever possible.
“Just because when my constituents call me and say, ‘Well, how come you want us to stay at home and you want to run around town and go to meetings?’ I’m going to be on the right side of this,” he said. “I’m going to play ‘chicken’, and say it is what it is. I think if we’re telling our citizens to stay home and stay safe, we should be doing the same thing. My ‘no’ vote is representing that theory.”
Alder Ed Wagner, who is back on the Council after a two-year hiatus, said that aldermen are elected to govern, not hide.
“Our constituents don’t have the sworn responsibility to govern like we do. We have a responsibility to all the citizens, and that is to make this government work for them whether we’ve got a pandemic or not,” he stated.
The council’s action gives aldermen and city department heads a virtual option for those who choose.
The April 21 meeting was the second conducted using Zoom video conferencing, with the mayor presiding over the process from the council chambers at Marshfield City Hall, while the aldermen and city staff logged in from their homes and offices.