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Homewood trustee suggests board hold more open conversations on issues

Homewood trustees might soon be conducting more open-ended public conversations about village issues after Trustee Anne Colton made the suggestion at the July 11 board meeting.

Colton recounted a recent conversation she had with Village Manager Napoleon Haney and Economic Development Director Angela Mesaros about the village’s economic development strategy. 

“It was such a useful conversation,” she said. “The only thing that would have made it better is if we were all there. We have so many smart people on this board, and we have such a diversity of experiences, a diversity of expertise.”

She noted that board meetings currently stick close to the agenda. Board members are offered an opportunity to comment during and at the end of meetings, but she said in most cases trustees make statements rather than carry on open-ended conversation.

She suggested the agenda start including a period for conversation about issues.

“We could put a clock on it. Nobody wants to be here until 11 o’clock,” she said. “But if we could take 15 minutes just to talk about things.”

Topics that require more extensive discussion could be picked up at future meetings or at a commitee of the whole meeting, she said.

“I just think we’re missing a big piece of the jobs that we were elected to do as trustees,” she said.

Trustees Jay Heiferman and Lauren Roman expressed support for the idea. Heiferman said he would support committee of the whole meetings or a workshop-type meeting devoted to three or four specific topics. 

Mayor Rich Hofeld suggested he would be willing to try holding more conversations.

“Years ago we used to have the committee of whole meetings,” he said. “I’ll be glad to take you through it.”

Regarding the economic development discussion that prompted the idea, Colton said she hopes trustees can take into account changing conditions that might have long-term impact.

“I think we’re doing a fantastic job in the near term” on economic development, she said. “But I see a lot of changes coming in the global marketplace in terms of consumer behavior, in terms of technology.”

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