Yes, we are listening to you

Published 12:19 am Saturday, December 31, 2016

Elected officials, those on the Suffolk City Council included, have on occasion been accused of not listening to constituents. It has been said that even though we may hear you, we are not listening.

At one point, an individual insinuated that citizens no longer come to council meetings, because any attempt to communicate and affect change would be futile.

During the City Council meeting of Nov. 16, Michael Jones spoke as a non-agenda speaker. He expressed his dismay over being cited for a violation of the city’s noise ordinance and what he perceived to be excessive penalties that could be imposed.

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He said he had been incarcerated and since his release had been gainfully employed, paid his taxes and was “doing the right thing.” He continued by saying that under the circumstances he may “not be worthy enough” to bring this issue forward, but he felt compelled to do so regardless of the result.

Mr. Jones stated his case and asked City Council to look into it.

On Dec. 21, motivated by Mr. Jones’ comments and request, City Council voted unanimously to amend the ordinance by reducing the first offense to a more reasonable third-class misdemeanor, which does not provide for jail time. Subsequent offenses within a 12-month period would escalate to a second-class misdemeanor.

This is an example of how the system can and should work. We have an obligation to listen to our citizens — to not only listen, but to investigate and act upon those concerns when they appear to have merit and legitimacy.

All our citizens are worthy of this consideration. I encourage anyone to avail themselves of the opportunity to address City Council. I believe your words will not fall on deaf ears.

The results are not guaranteed, but to implement change you must make your voice heard.

Mike Duman represents the Chuckatuck Borough on Suffolk City Council. Email him at