Community members gathered to voice their concerns about city management and policies to Ross Cunniff Saturday morning at the Fort Collins Senior Center.
Cunniff, the Councilmember for District 5, organizes the semimonthly informal listening sessions himself. Constituents gather in a circle to discuss issues within the community and use Cunniff as a middle-man to introduce growing concerns to city council during their meetings.
Cunniff believes that discussions much like this are beneficial for the community and himself.
“They allow a more direct and interactive connection between myself and the community than just attending a city council meeting,” Cunniff said.
All attendees were regulars who attend every session organized by Cunniff. This created a familiarity between Cunniff and members, who knew all attendees by name.
Some topics of discussions include affordable housing, broadband and accommodations for a growing population. Cunniff responded to growing concerns by listening to constituents and responding with his personal, future plans and ideas to resolve the issues presented.
With the audience entirely consisting of older constituents there is an evident lack of participation from younger voters, Cunniff said.
To encourage a larger number of the population to vote Cunniff plans to hold three sessions a year targeted at the younger community of voters at venues that are convenient for college students. Topics of discussion for these sessions would include the business community, the university and neighborhood concerns.
To fully accommodate and focus on community concerns Cunniff believes it is best to split districts in half to double the number of councilmembers. Cunniff argues that this would allow for councilmembers to focus on a smaller amount of community members so concerns of constituents can be heard and carried out much more efficiently.
Cunniff plans to hold the next listening session toward the end of April.
Collegian reporter Piper Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @piperldavis