New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | August 24, 2019

Editorial: Understanding relations and communication to the public

By Andre Jones | December 5, 2018 3:03 am

The field of public relations has been present since the inception of government and democracy. Public relations is a way for elected officials to pass on information to the public.

But as time passes by, we have reached a point as people that have been banking on instantaneous answers and transparency. Gone are the days of patience and development and they have been replaced with the “microwave” mentality; get it done and get it done as fast as you can.

Charles City and New Kent’s local governments and school boards face these issues every day and it is only going to become increasingly difficult to handle. While these boards do have safe haven with issues thanks to state and federal law, citizens look for answers and transparency.

Robert’s Rules of Orders provide a structural format to conduct public meetings with elected officials and citizens. The rules are established so that citizens can make comments or bring up issues they wish to be addressed. While elected officials can elect to respond to those issues during a directives/comment period, citizens are becoming worried that they aren’t being heard.

I have attended several local school board and government meetings in my years as a writer for the Chronicle. When I see someone new approach the podium, they ask questions or make comments in hopes to receive a response. When they do not receive an answer, they often seem frustrated and fathomed that people in public positions choose not to provide insight. However, the elected officials are doing what is right to maintain order within that meeting and move it along.

But citizens do deserve answers in a more, timely fashion. As more projects come into Charles City and New Kent counties, citizen feedback and input are becoming critical components of growth. When concerns are raised at meetings and garner no response, social media becomes a platform that says elected officials do not care.

I personally believe that there should be more ways for the public to receive feedback from officials. While town halls are a good way to talk back and forth with citizens, not all the questions or information can/will be answered. For the citizens, they just want to know that they are being heard and that their concerns are being addressed. Whether it’s the progress of Internet being available to the counties or if the school systems are doing everything they can to provide information, there will be things that fall through the cracks.

I’m not choosing a side but I’m here to inform elected officials and the public that communication and transparency is keen for everybody. We may not agree about the methodology of how things are conducted, but our words and concerns are have more of an impact than things we’ve seen before. I hope that this message gets across to everyone and not fall on deaf ears because if it does, we are moving backwards and not forwards, and that in itself will prevent us from utilizing our talents, skills, and opinions to construct a more harmonious environment to live, work, and relax in.