In 2017, Stockton City Council reduced its number of regular monthly meetings from two a month to one. We objected to that decision, arguing that reducing the number of regular meetings limited public access and that it was unacceptable for a city of about 307,000 residents to have one regular meeting a month.
City councils in neighboring smaller cities meet more regularly, including Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon and Modesto.
Some Stockton city officials contended that holding one monthly regular meeting and a study session still provided the same amount of access. We disagreed.
Study sessions also follow a different set of rules including for announcing and canceling them, and exclude Council from voting and making final decisions. Council also did not hold study sessions in April or August.
Reducing the number of meetings placed an additional burden on anyone wanting to comment to Council before it made a final call on an agenda item.
The change in the schedule was to allow Councilman Dan Wright, who represents District 2, to perform his duties on Council and as acting superintendent for Stockton Unified School District, following the December resignation of Eliseo Davalos. Both City Council and SUSD board meetings were held on the same night.
To his credit, Wright juggled the roles as best he could given his obligations to his employer, constituents and family.
In May, SUSD named John Deasy as superintendent, Wright was relieved of those additional duties and his meetings’ conflict eliminated.
In late August, Stockton City Council announced it would return to holding two regular meetings a month.
It was a change endorsed by both residents and council members.
“I was literally getting people saying ‘I’ll see you at the meeting Tuesday,’ and I had to tell them we’re not meeting on Tuesday,” Councilwoman Christina Fugazi said at a Council meeting. “Then I had to tell them we wouldn’t be meeting the following Tuesday either. It’s a great suggestion to change study sessions to regular meetings and we take care of people’s business on more Tuesdays.”
We couldn’t agree more.