Town hall meetings to continue

GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Vincent DeSantis in recent weeks has begun hosting virtual town hall meetings to answer questions from residents amid the coronavirus outbreak. Now he plans to make the forums hosted over Facebook Live a weekly event on Fridays at 10 a.m.

“These town hall meeting are basically about keeping people informed with regard to status of coronavirus and restrictions we’re under,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I think people really want to know what’s going on.”

DeSantis previously hosted two town hall meetings over the city’s Facebook page moderated by City Clerk Jennifer Mazur who monitors for questions that residents can post in the comment section while watching the live video conference.

During each forum DeSantis has been joined virtually by city department heads and local health officials to discuss precautions residents can take to protect themselves and their community from the coronavirus and steps being taken locally to respond to the virus.

“We want to be able to do all of these things and at the same time be in compliance with state emergency regulations and also keep people safe, especially our own citizens in our community,” said DeSantis of the virtual town hall meetings.

Previous participants include Lt. Brad Schaffer of the Gloversville Police Department, Fire Chief Thomas Groff, Department of Public Works Director Christopher Perry and Stephanie Fishel, chief of nursing at Nathan Littauer Hospital.

“So far we’ve been able to reach out to a lot of people and be responsive to their questions and concerns,” said DeSantis. “Questions about city operations and what we’re doing, those are legitimate questions that people might have.”

DeSantis pointed to the virtual town hall meetings as providing a valuable opportunity for residents and local officials to connect in a new way, noting that prior to the closure of City Hall to all non-essential personnel due to the coronavirus residents typically were only able to approach city leaders during the public comment portion of city meetings. Meeting rules often prohibit officials from entering a dialogue with residents.

“In these virtual town hall meetings, they get a chance to ask questions in real time,” said DeSantis. “The response has been very positive.”

This week’s forum will again focus on answering questions related to the coronavirus with DeSantis to be joined by a healthcare worker from Nathan Littauer Hospital.

DeSantis said he plans to continue offering the virtual town halls weekly at least through the coronavirus outbreak and possibly into the future.

“Whenever we’re introduced to something like this which is kind of a new thing for us, we realize it has possibilities. Hopefully there will be other items that can be dispensed to the community,” said DeSantis.

The city will hold Facebook Live question and answer town hall meetings every Friday at 10 a.m. beginning this week on the City of Gloversville, New York – City Hall Facebook page.

By Kerry Minor

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