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Appleton council meetings to continue with virtual option

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:08 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many municipalities made the switch to virtual meetings, and while some are returning to in person attendance, Appleton city council members cast a unanimous vote Wednesday night allowing themselves to have an option.

Alderperson Nate Wolff says the biggest reason is flexibility.

“I think that virtual participation has created more of an atmosphere of everyone showing up, where in years past we had alderpersons not coming to meetings and I think it’s created a better atmosphere to get work done for our constituents,” he said.

Over the course of the pandemic some people have expressed a concern that virtual meetings can limit access to elected officials.

Alderperson Mike Smith doesn’t necessarily agree.

“That’s what phone calls are for, letters are for. If a constituent wants to get ahold of me to talk about an issue that’s a phone call, it’s an email and then we can face to face,” Smith said.

Council members also disagree with the notion, it’s a tool to hide behind.

”I think most council members recognize when we’re going to have issues that will bring a lot of community members out in person and I think they will all make an effort to be here in person as much as possible,” Alderperson Chad Doran added.

Some council members did express a concern over technology. If virtual meetings do continue long term, the city will have to make a larger investment to ensure quality.

Alderperson Kristin Alfheim said, “A lot of it is the people using it and we do have glitches, most of which you can get thru pretty easily. This afternoon we had one, it took about thirty seconds for us to switch into it. If we had the right equipment in the room we would have far fewer problems so the upgrade is necessary to make sure it runs smoothly for years to come.”

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