Jeff Bryan head shot

Jeff Bryan

“Communication is not a two way street. It is a bridge. Either you have one or you build one. It's about connecting, not correcting.”

― Farshad Asl

If you are a social media influencer, don’t expect to get much attention from either Commissioners Ron Kitchen or Scott Carnahan.

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For that matter, if you are influential you’re not likely to get a minute of their time. And depending on who you are affiliated with, don’t expect a response from the current chairman and the first vice-chairman.

Citizens expect the ability to be heard. They also expect clear-cut communication from leaders, peers or colleagues. The notion of listening to citizens is foolhardy in the eyes of Carnahan and Kitchen.

The brouhaha began when it was recommended Kitchen consider passing on accepting the role of chairman if nominated. He lost his cool, proceeding to chide his colleagues for their reasoning. Carnahan stepped in when it was brought up that other commissioners were feeling pressure from influential people within the community, calling it “damn scary.”

Here’s where it got “damn scary.”

Carnahan admitted he received a bunch of calls prior to the commission’s most recent workshops.

“You think I called them back?” he queried his colleagues. “Hell no. Because I do my own homework. I make my own decisions.

“I’m not going to listen to anybody to tell me how to vote.”

Kitchen told his colleagues, he’ll talk to anyone. But that comes with a caveat, because Kitchen says he won’t speak to builders and the chamber of commerce.

“They’re only influential if they can get to you,” he said.

The underlying message both commissioners managed to convey to constituents throughout the county: neither your voice, nor your opinion, matters. They have it all figured out.

That’s a poor message to send to citizens, businesses or organizations seeking to have an official hear them out. If Kitchen and Carnahan want to label the builders association or chamber as “influential” groups, then the same should be done with homeowners associations and civic clubs, too. All have interests in their communities or organizations.

Your failure to engage the citizens is a failure of your duties as a duly-elected representative. The key word here is “representative.” The commission, as a whole, has a responsibility to answer to citizens — regardless of what business or organization they are a part of and regardless of their age.

You can’t have your pulse on the community if your fingers are plugging your ears.

Contact Chronicle Editor Jeff Bryan at jeff.bryan@chronicleonline.com.

Contact Executive Editor Jeff Bryan at 352-564-2930 or jeff.bryan@chronicleonline.com.

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