Although it’s not up to him, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce says the Assembly meetings should be open to the public.
Not everyone has access to the internet, he said in a social media post on Friday, “and therefore not everyone has equal access to the Assembly video meetings. I want to encourage the Assembly to open up the assembly doors and truly be open to the public again.”
Assembly member Kelly Cooper, who is also running for House District 31 against Rep. Sarah Vance, said the meetings will remain closed until the borough’s Assembly chambers get renovated, by using the CARES Act money.
She admitted in the last assembly meeting that this could take months.
The matter came to the fore when a member of the public, in the middle of a Zoom meeting public comment period, said he could go to Walmart, churches, and other public places, so there is no reason that the Assembly cannot meet in public.
For Pierce, months of Zoom meetings is not good enough: “This should not wait for another week or months as was stated in the last Assembly meeting. This should happen now. I do not oversee the assembly or clerks’ office, so this is just a friendly encouragement. We can do all this while still obeying the CDC guidelines. For those who do not feel comfortable to be in person, you can watch from home. It’s a win/win.”
The Assembly and the Borough school board have received push back against the closed meetings, but the school board has moved its meeting to a high school gymnasium in the borough.