You’ve been absent for many votes this year in council meetings. From January through August, you were absent for large parts of 8 out of 15 meetings. Why? If you are reelected, will these absences continue? How will you prioritize your service on the council?
Renee Golder: I have a full-time job, like every other councilmember, and when meetings are 16 hours long, it’s not reasonable to ask somebody to sit that long. I am not going to prioritize taking time away from my students at school to be at meetings — my priority is my job at Bay View.
I want to be clear that, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t missed an entire meeting, but I have missed parts of meetings, that’s true. For those who have never been on council, they may not realize that the council meetings are only part of the job; it still takes about 20 hours a week of other work and other meetings, emails, and conversations with community members and staff.
Yes, I have missed a few closed sessions, a few open sessions, but I’ve always been there for part of the meeting, and the staff and the mayor have always been aware of when I’m going to arrive so they can set the agenda accordingly.
The only control I have is to say what time I’ll be there, so if they want me for that part of the meeting, they can put that item at that time of the agenda.
I’d also like to say, even once this year, I was selected as a juror, and I stayed at court until 4:30 p.m., came straight to council, and then went to my office at Bay View and worked until 2 in the morning and then back to court the next day. I am extremely dedicated to my position on the City Council and I take my work there very seriously, though it is not my full-time job. I am completely committed and show up for the community.
Additionally, both candidates for mayor have assured me that one of their priorities is making the meetings shorter. Sixteen hours, 12 hours twice a month — that’s ridiculous. That’s not sustainable for someone with a full-time job, especially on top of all the other council requirements outside of the meetings.