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How to make your voices heard


Dear Friends & Neighbors,


In the seven months that I have been on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, I have seen that the opportunity to comment to the Board of Supervisors is rather underutilized. It is a powerful means to communicate your viewpoints to the five members of the Board.


There are only a few people who take advantage of the opportunity to regularly make comments. Oftentimes, these speakers may have one specific focus, such as homelessness or they may speak on a diverse range of topics.


While there are items that come before the Supervisors that do generate a lot of public comment, oftentimes it is just a few or even one person who comments. Usually, when multiple people comment, they have been organized to speak out. This can be very effective at persuading the Supervisors. I will give one particular example during our budget discussions in June.


One of the decisions the Supervisors had to make recently was whether to reinstate a couple of positions in the budget for the department that handles Military and Veterans Affairs. While I think that most of the other Supervisors and I were already inclined to support this funding, the public sentiment expressed cemented support that these positions should be filled.


We received many written comments for several weeks leading up to the budget vote. We also had several people speak during the budget meetings in favor of filling these positions. What was particularly compelling about these efforts was that nearly every person expressed a unique point of view. There were only a few comments that appeared to be framed as a form letter. That extra touch of individuality makes all the difference. If it is the same comment being repeated in the same words again and again, it loses an edge in influence.


There are several ways to express your opinion to the Board of Supervisors. It can be done in person at the Supervisors meeting, or it can be done online via Zoom (join the meeting and use the "raise hand" icon when it is time for Public Comment). You can also write to each individual Supervisor or send one comment to the Clerk of the Board (cob@co.monterey.ca.us), who will then send it to all the Supervisors.


There are multiple opportunities to comment. One option is to comment when an item comes on the Board agenda. Items are usually agendized for the morning session 10:30 am – 12 noon, or the afternoon session, 1:30 pm until adjournment. There is also a time to comment on closed session matters, which are legal or personnel issues, at 9 am. The other type of public comment is about any items not on the agenda. This opportunity is around 10:30 am.


Comments are limited to two minutes in all these instances. While this may seem very limiting, I have learned that succinct and direct comments in that time span are far more impactful than longer comments.


One other rarely used avenue for public comment are via the many committees that the Supervisors sit on. Some of these committees include other elected and appointed officials, but some are Board of Supervisor committees with two Supervisors. These committees are limited to two Supervisors because three would represent a quorum. Since all supervisors must be included in a meeting that has a quorum, that would then make the meeting a Board of Supervisors’ meeting instead of a committee meeting.


A list of the times, places and agendas for the Board of Supervisor and committee meetings can be found at https://monterey.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. We also have a calendar on our website, where you can see when the Board and other committees I am on will be meeting.


The Brown Act severely limits communication between the Supervisors. On any given issue, I can only speak to one other Supervisor. State law prohibits private discussions by a majority of the Supervisors. I bring this up because the Brown Act was created so that public policy decisions were made in public and not cut in private backroom deals. This is an added incentive for the impact of public comments. A majority of the Board will not have collectively made a decision prior to the meeting. Your comments can influence that decision.


Please visit glennchurch.com/publiccomment for more information on the ways in which you can make your voices heard. And as always, don't hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance. You can reach us at 831-755-5022 or district2@co.monterey.ca.us. The Board of Supervisors will not be meeting for the first three weeks of August, but my office remains open and my team and I are available to you. The next Board meeting will be on Tuesday, August 22nd.


Sincerely,




Glenn Church

District 2 Supervisor

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