For three years, Commissioner Brian Coleman has watched colleagues Scott Carnahan, Ron Kitchen Jr. and Jeff Kinnard take their turns as board chairman.
Now Coleman has the gavel and he isn’t taking the role lightly.
“We don’t have a lot of conflict between commissioners and I want to keep that going,” Coleman said.
Coleman is ending his first and only term. After defeating incumbent Scott Adams in 2016, Coleman announced this year that he would not be seeking re-election.
That puts Coleman in the unusual position of being chairman during an election year when his name won’t be on the ballot.
He has some ideas, both in terms of how meetings are conducted and what he would like to see the board accomplish in 2020. They include:
• As a retired sheriff’s deputy, code compliance has been one of Coleman’s top goals since he took office. While he said the issue has gotten better, with the county now taking a harder stand against property owners with junkyard conditions, Coleman said the county can do better.
The biggest public concern, he said, is the only way to start a code investigation is through a citizen complaint.
The problem is twofold: Residents often do not want to give their names, and the process keeps code officers from issuing citations when they see violations on their own.
Coleman said the county should consider dropping the complaint-driven system and hire an additional code compliance officer to handle the uptick in cases.
“To me, it’s a manpower issue,” he said.
• As for running board meetings, Coleman said he doesn’t agree with the practice of not allowing any back-and-forth between commissioners or staffers and the public when residents have questions during the board’s open to the public comment section of the agenda.
He said residents often have simple questions that could be answered on the spot. Instead, the protocol has been to discourage interaction during public comment so as to avoid prolonged debate between residents and commissioners or staff.
“People get there and they get pretty nervous about stuff,” Coleman said. “It’s a little unfair to the public when we can’t answer a simple question. I might get some push back from commissioners, but that’s my prerogative as chairman.”
Coleman said he doesn’t think it’ll get out of hand.
“That’s up to the chairman to keep control over that,” he said.
• Coleman said he encourages spirited debate from commissioners, but would like to see it stick to the issue being discussed.
“Some of our discussions have become too personal,” he said. “I don’t make decisions based on personal reasons. I don’t want personal bias getting in the way. I like deciding what’s best for the community in general.”
• Coleman plans to keep time-certain issues on the agenda, running as close to schedule as possible.
“I don’t want people coming to the meeting,” he said, “and feel like they need to sit there all day.”