On an evening in which the city sought to provide access to the citizens through a town hall meeting, making a personal connection was not an issue.
Sixteen people attended the first of two town hall meetings Monday night at the HFV Wilson Center. There were 24 city officials and employees on hand to answer concerns and questions during the hour-long session.
Mayor Sheryl Ellis gave a presentation on projects taking place within the city. Those in attendance were then invited to meet with department heads, which were seated throughout the center. Prior to the presentation, Ellis did address three issues.
Topping the list were the recent suspensions within the police department, which Ellis said were a confidential issue. Those with questions were directed to City Manager J.D. Spohn, who reiterated personnel issues are confidential.
Spohn said he had received inquiries from a couple of interested parties, but was unable to divulge further information because of legal implications.
Ellis also addressed the ownership of a water tower off Commerce, and a $600,000 loan to the Ardmore Development Authority. Ellis said the city is working with the ADA, and the issues are a legal matter.
At the end of the presentation, Ellis said the ADA would ask the city to place a question on the ballot calling for the renewal of a sales tax to fund the entity. Ellis voiced support for the tax, which would be used to fund economic development.
Commissioner John Moore said attendance was not as good as hoped for, but was optimistic more citizens would take part in the town hall meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Ardmore Public Library.
The 2013 City Community Forum is also slated for 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Ardmore Convention Center, and will feature the same format.
"As Mayor Ellis said, this is the first time, and, hopefully, we will build on this," Moore said. "All we can do is give the citizens the opportunity to have input, and that is what we have done. I think this will catch on once people see what we are doing."
Questions raised at the tables during the forum ranged from Operation Pride to information on running for the city commission. Despite the low attendance, Spohn was encouraged by the interactions with the citizens.
"People seem to like it," Spohn said. "They are able to put a face to the people they talk to over the phone. I think it's a good kickoff, and, hopefully, we will be able to make it grow."