City Councilman Donelson Critical of Mayor’s Listening Sessions’ Format

Councilman Dave Donelson has shared his August 26th Gazette Letter to the Editor with us. He announced he will hold a Townhall on 8/29/23 from 5:30- 7 p.m. at Fire Station 18, 6830 Hadler View, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. 

Here is his letter:

The headline in Saturday’s Gazette, “Groups Raise Concerns Over Listening Tour: Residents Worry Format Limits Public Participation of the Mayor- City Council Sponsored Sessions”, is misleading to readers. I am a member of City Council and the “Listening Tour” is not sponsored by City Council. It is sponsored, planned, and organized by the mayor. Council was informed when and where sessions would be, what the format would be, and invited to attend and participate within the already determined format.

I share some citizens’ concerns that the format is designed to control citizens’ comments and questions. It is a “safe space” for the mayor to interact with citizens. Tables of 10 or fewer participants are guided in their discussion of four predetermined topics by a “table facilitator”. Each table then has a representative stand up and explain to the mayor, and the one or two council men or women in attendance what that table’s concerns are. After all the tables have spoken, the mayor repeats back what he has heard. I watched a recording of the first listening session and was disappointed there was no question and answer; no direct exchange between the mayor, or councilman present and the citizens. Next Tuesday, August 29th, I will be holding a traditional Town Hall at Fire Station 18 in District 1- which I represent. Citizens can speak directly to me and ask me questions. I will answer them honestly and look into those I don’t know the answer to. There won’t be filters between me and the citizens. I will certainly be “listening” to the citizens I have the privilege of representing. 

One thought on “City Councilman Donelson Critical of Mayor’s Listening Sessions’ Format

  1. This type of “listening tour” was used by Colorado Springs Utilities staff under Aram Benjamin to collect feedback from customers on their priorities for CSU planning on future capital spending.

    Despite CSU staff presentations at citizen “open houses” about new “green” and energy efficiency projects, citizens were most concerned about future reliability and costs for rate payers. No matter. What you saw was a focus on implementing state mandates for CO2 emissions with costly, unreliable technologies.

    Struthers’ staff also offered citizen surveys that assumed that the city provide the solution and just polled citizens on their preferred city solution, rather than whether the city should be involved in the first place.

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