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Will Our City Councillors Please Stand Up

Councillors Should Stand Up When They Speak 

Councillor Turiel’s Proposal Is Disrespectful To All

By William Legault



“What does a city councillor do?” This is one of the more common questions that I hear during election season.  My simple answer is that a city councillor stands up and speaks for the people of Salem. Not just the voters. Not just for supporters. A councillor stands up and speaks for everybody.

Last week Councillor Josh Turiel proposed that the council dispose of the procedural requirement that a councillor stand while speaking during the regular meetings.

My objection to this proposal is absolute.

Over the last 21 months this iteration of the Salem city council has consistently and flagrantly disrespected each other. As a result of their procedural shenanigans they have also disrespected all who live and work in this community. At times it has been embarrassing.

When a councillor stands to speak during a meeting, it is out of respect to our system of government, to those who have served in the past, to those who serve today, and also to the people of Salem. We should not have to ask for this respect, nor should we have to demand it. It should be, and is our due as the people represented.

In our small and often cramped city council chamber, standing also allows those in attendance to clearly see who is speaking. It focuses the attention of everyone on the speaker.  This is at it should be.

City Hall and Salem Access Television just installed a new sound system complete with a video monitor mounted behind the presidents rostrum. The new mikes installed on each councilors desk require a speaker to push a button to be heard. Doing that as they stand up should not be too difficult a habit to establish.

Over the years some traditions change. It’s the way of the world. The council chamber once had brass ashtrays and spittoons. Those thankfully are no longer around. Committee meetings have become more casual. You seldom see formal wear when a committee meets these days. Shorts and sweatshirts are sometimes seen when COLA or A&F meet. I don’t like that either, but have come to accept it.

The respectful tradition of a council standing to speak during a regular meeting should not be extinguished. Those who speak to the council, in any capacity are required to stand. The councillors that they address should return that respect to them and to us.

What does a city councillor do Councillor Turiel? 

A city councillor STANDS up and speaks for everybody.

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