My Public Comment on Censure of Councilwoman Alexa Roberts

The meeting on October 11, 2023, was the first time since Councilwoman Roberts’ censure that they allowed public comments, and I wanted to make sure my thoughts were heard.

It was challenging for me because I genuinely appreciate and respect every member of the council. These individuals are my neighbors, and we often cross paths in our daily lives. Nonetheless, I do believe that, in the interest of accountability, it’s essential to voice one’s opinion.

[I did speak during the meeting, but the microphone cut out about halfway >_< ]

“In our Village council, where their decisions have a significant impact on our community, it’s crucial that we maintain transparency and fairness. On September 20, 2023,  Mayor Bernhard censured Councilwoman Roberts, sparking debates and concerns. As a concerned citizen, I publicly disagree with this action, emphasizing the importance of respecting differing opinions in local government and the need for transparency.

Censure is a formal expression of disapproval by a governing body, typically reserved for serious misconduct. In this case, the censure of Councilwoman Roberts seems unjustified.

The Mayor’s stated reasons for censure were that on July 12, 2023, Councilwoman Roberts refused to allow other members to speak and left the meeting before it was adjourned.

And that on September 13, 2023, during a closed session, she refused to partake in discussion, refused to vote on motions that were seconded, and attempted to leave the meeting until other members told her not to. Because there isn’t a recording, the public doesn’t really know what happened. But we do know what happened at the July 12th meeting and here is a brief summary of what transpired:

During the informal discussion portion, Councilwoman Roberts spoke for a few minutes clarifying her position on some items and expressing that she has a duty to represent not only those who elected her but everyone in the Village. In your response, you said, “Thank you for that.” And it could have ended there. But, in my opinion, that was where it escalated as you, for lack of a better word, mansplained to Councilwoman Roberts how she was not the chair.  Voices were raised and soon after Councilwoman Roberts left the meeting.

Was it heated? Absolutely. A situation many of us can relate to – moments when emotions get the best of us. Censuring her for an action that occurred not only two months prior but also for which she apologized during the next regular council meeting, especially when there was a shared responsibility in the incident, is, in my opinion, not a justifiable reason.

Transparency is key in ensuring that our elected officials are held accountable for their actions, and the public has the right to know the specific reasons behind this decision. Without such transparency, it becomes difficult for citizens to trust that their elected representatives are acting in the best interests of the community.

Defending council members’ right to express opinions without fear of retribution ensures a diverse representation of voices in our community. Councilman Slyman rightly stated, “Alexa has honorably and faithfully served our community, everybody has bad days, and we owe her the benefit of the doubt. She always takes the best interests of the Village at heart and I don’t agree with the forum.”

It is my hope that moving forward, we can foster an environment where diverse viewpoints can be openly discussed, leading to a stronger and more united Village of Whispering Pines.”