First 'community conversation' takes place today

On Tuesday evening, citizens will have a chance to make their voices heard and ask questions of local elected officials in an open format.

The community conversation, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge Island Commons, is meant to expand the limited interactions community members have with their representatives, event organizer Joe Honick said.

"This is my idea to give the citizens a chance to really do some public comment," Honick said. "People are not used to having this opportunity."

Most members of the City Council and the mayor are expected to attend.

Honick, an islander and long-time journalist, said he conceived the idea after becoming frustrated with the public comment format at City Council meetings.

The evening will begin with an introduction and questions from Honick, followed by a question panel featuring Bainbridge Notebook blogger Althea Paulson and editor of the Review, Dennis Anstine. Honick will moderate the discussion.

Audience members will then have time to raise their own questions, delivered to the moderator on index cards. Honick emphasized that personal attacks will not be allowed during the event.

"It's time for the community, in a mature way, to be able to speak to issues and for the officials to answer questions," Honick said. "There are a lot of questions about Winslow Way, development, and who are the investors, issues that don't come up in a council meetings."

The end of the event will be an open comment period for anyone to express their opinion on an issue.

Council member Bill Knobloch said the forum should prove useful.

"It's going to provide more of an understanding of how things happen and how decisions are made," Knobloch said. "It may be not always be a pleasant conversation but it will be factual and informative."

The community conversation begins at 6:30 p.m., April 7, at the Bainbridge Island Commons on Brien Drive.

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