Public comment to be allowed at Raton City Commission meetings, despite COVID-19 restrictions

by Sharon Niederman

 

RATON — Although Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive orders to New Mexico citizens to remain at home and because gatherings larger than five people are not permitted during the COVID-19 emergency, Raton City Manager Scott Berry is intent on keeping public comment available at city commission meetings.

“We’re hoping some restrictions will be lifted soon,” Berry says. “However, at our next City Commission meeting April 14, if the Governor’s orders are still in place, we will set up a way either for citizens to get on the phone or to send interactive comments to Facebook.

“We’re still trying to figure it out,” said Berry.

Berry says that while the risk of contagion is there, we should not panic. “We hope to be getting back to normal. This has hurt Raton as badly as any community in New Mexico. We want to emphasize our support for local business.”

Our risk for contagion in Raton is low, Berry feels, compared to metropolitan areas where people are crowded together. “We want to comply with official guidance,” he said, “and while we may never have a case of virus, we have the victims of the disease – our small businesses with very real problems.”

“I’ve had business owners come to me and say, ‘I’m ready to hang it up.’”

But the city isn’t taking any chances. When Mayor Neil Segotta recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., he self-quarantined for two weeks until he knew for certain he was clear,” Berry says.

Mayor Segotta adds that, “Currently the governing body is exempt from the gathering restrictions so we will continue to hold our meetings at their scheduled times. We are live-streaming the meetings through KRTN as well as broadcasting them on KRTN radio. If at some time conditions change, negatively or positively, we will adjust and notify the public.”

While our city will require some rebuilding after the pandemic has passed, Berry said, Raton is out front with that rebuilding, using every available means.

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