I was not present at the Oct. 6 meeting of the Barron County Board Executive Committee, but after reading an article about it in the Wednesday, Oct. 13, issue of The Chronotype entitled “County chair nixes requests by citizens for a town hall meeting,” I am disappointed and even bewildered.

Citizens are simply asking to have the opportunity for back-and-forth dialogue with elected officials on important issues that affect all of our lives. I cannot understand why people to whom we have entrusted our well-being would not embrace the opportunity that town hall meetings would provide to explore and understand points of view that may differ from their own or from what the state says, build confidence and trust and help them represent the constitutional rights of the citizens of our community.

The citizens quoted in the article sound articulate, well-prepared, composed. County chair Louie Okey, on the other hand, sounds cynical, defensive, closed-minded. How in the world does he think it’s okay to out-of-hand refuse such a reasonable request by snapping back at citizens—people he is supposed to represent—that town hall meetings would be nothing more than “a back-and-forth b_ _ _ _ session?” (Absurd accusation by the way, based on the sense I get from citizens cited in the article.) And, apparently, none of Okey’s colleagues spoke up in support of town halls either. It seems to me we have serious problems with the officials we elected to represent us in Barron County.

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