The city of St. Cloud had its 500th town hall meeting Wednesday, May 20. Hosted by Mayor Dave Kleis, the special event featured a commemorative cake and cookies prepared by the mayor himself.
Aside from the festivities, the purpose of the meeting remained the same, to encourage citizens to engage in discourse of local issues.
Mayor Kleis told the participants of the meeting, one of the things he promised when running for office was to hold a town meeting every week. The 500th meeting was held in the Sun room of the Lake George complex, and while the meetings do usually take place in City Hall, the mayor highlighted all of the different places the meetings have been held.
“I’ve had town hall meetings on the St. Cloud State Campus, on the bus, and even 24-hour long meetings,” Kleis said, describing some of the places he’s gone to include the community in the discussion.
“In order to have a discussion about safety, I’ve even had a Town Hall meeting on 5th Avenue at bar close,” Mayor Kleis added.
“I try to have meetings at different locations in order to get a wider range of people into the discussion,” said Mayor Kleis when asked how he chooses the locations of the meetings.
According to Kleis the meetings have produced a lot of valuable input from the community members. He also said that it is important for him to get feedback from younger generations as well, saying that while at town hall meetings he’s heard from students in elementary schools all the way up to college students.
“It is extremely important to me to hear different peoples perspectives,” Mayor Kleis said.
The reason Kleis said that he wanted to create a weekly town hall meeting was to hear the voice of the community members that did not want to speak at city council meetings, and to increase citizens’ accessibility to local government.
The discussion at the 500th town hall meeting was not unlike others. Topics ranged from the community police to recent construction projects and hearing concerns from local citizens.
The opening of Fredrick Park and SCSU’s partnering with the city to help support the Campus Area Patrol program (CAPS) were also topics of discussion at the town hall meeting. The mayor presented participants with the most recent updates from meetings he has had earlier in the week.
The mayor urged everyone that is interested to attend town hall meetings in the future. For information on when and where meetings are held, visit the City of St. Cloud’s website.