Selling enthusiasm to a nearly empty room

On Feb. 21 in this space I opined that the fact that only City Council incumbents Duncan McCoy and Cam Walker were re-elected unchallenged was somewhere between community contentment and apathy.

The pair tried to challenge the apathy assertion Tuesday night during a community question and answer session sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

The question, “Do you sense a lack of empathy from locals about our City Government,” was one of 15 questions submitted to the chamber by residents before the event.

“I don’t think it’s (a lack of) empathy, I think it’s enthusiasm,” Walker said to about a dozen people scattered among rows of empty chairs. “They are seeing positive change within our community.”

Walker highlighted the Nevada Way beautification project, solar leases moving forward, changes with the new city manager, downtown redevelopment and debt reduction plans as some of those positives.

I don’t pretend to know how many people contact City Council members or city officials directly. McCoy and Walker said Tuesday that their phone numbers are public, and personal contact with the community is high.

“My message traffic on my telephone and email, and my contacts in front of the turnips and the lettuce at the grocery store have not declined,” McCoy said Tuesday. “Everybody is engaged in what is happening here.”

McCoy said most of the comments he gets are positive suggestions on how to improve services within the city. Very few are of the “why don’t you go jump in the lake” variety.

Of course, I wonder if a lot of those contacts are by the same group of people.

Of the dozen people who attended Tuesday, I would say eight can be found at nearly every City Council. I am including the organizers of the event.

Tuesday’s event and all the council meetings are taped for broadcast on BCTV. How many people watch them is unknown. As is how many watch the council meetings at the city’s website, www.bcnv.org.

All I know is what I see.

Tuesday’s turnout was about half the number that showed up for the pair’s Feb. 21 community meeting at the Boulder Dam Hotel. That event was less formal and was largely made up of congratulatory backslappers for the duo.

I am not criticizing McCoy and Walker for what I think is the community’s doing. They should be commended for getting out there and being available to answer the community’s questions. It’s not their fault people aren’t showing up.

McCoy said that no one filing to challenge is a “fluke” that will never happen again.

“The reason we’re never going to see this happen again is because the election cycle is the throbbing of the heartbeat of our community,” he said.

The room was so empty Tuesday night that you could almost hear that heartbeat slowing down, not racing with “enthusiasm.”

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