Sumner City Council approves new rules for speaking at meetings

Council members will be limited to five minutes, relevant topics

Staff writerMarch 5, 2014 

The Sumner City Council members created new limits for themselves this week, approving a resolution that limits what they can talk about and for how long.

The council voted 6-1 on the rule change, which keeps council members from speaking longer than five minutes during council comment period toward the end of meetings and prohibits discussion of non-city-related topics. Council member Nancy Dumas voted against the new limits.

Councilman Mike LeMaster proposed the new rules. He said it was aimed at leveling the playing field between citizens and council members.

LeMaster said residents are required to speak about city-related business for no longer than five minutes. By contrast, council members were previously able to talk at length about whatever they wanted. 

"I don't think that's fair," he said. "We are all citizens of the same city.”

During Monday's meeting, LeMaster used Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address as an example of a brief speech that made an impact, apparently implying that council members don't need more time to speak than Lincoln did then.

“Brevity helps us focus, makes things memorable and gets us to the point,” he said.

Dumas told The News Tribune on Wednesday night that she voted against the new rules because they limit what can be shared with the public. 

"We are elected by the people in our community and they pay our salary," she said. "They have a right to know what we are doing with our time."

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog

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