Some 85 of your friends and neighbors spent their entire Friday participating in Payson Town Hall 2020. The event, held every few years, gives citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions on the direction the town should take in a couple of important areas.
The idea is to have enough people apply to participate that an independent third party can select a group from this pool that represents the demographics of the town in terms of age, sex, length of residency and similar categories. That way, what the group has to offer in the way of opinions and priorities will be pretty much the same as those of the entire population of Payson.
In theory, it's a great concept. Rather than an impersonal poll of residents, members of the town council and staff can listen to real people express opinions and viewpoints in ways that "yes" and "no" opinion polls can't reflect and be fairly confident they are hearing the "voice" of Payson.
The problem this year is that the town received only as many applications as there were openings, and only that when the deadline for applying was extended. The demographic screening process had to be scrapped.
Fortunately the balance wasn't too bad, according to Administrative Services Director Kelly Udall.
The issues that Town Hall 2020 participants are considering are issues that affect all of us. They include developing new sources of water, Green Valley and Main Street redevelopment, the acquisition and preservation of open spaces, attracting employers who pay decent wages, and the role the town should play in assuring that affordable housing is available for the service workers.
The 85 participants probably could have spent their Friday doing something they enjoyed more. That they didn't is a tribute to their community spirit, and we salute them.
But we also suggest that the town consider some other ways to solicit the opinions of those who simply can't take a Friday off from work or away from children, perhaps a series of shorter evening sessions or an occasional weekend Town Hall.
For those who could have taken the time to participate, but didn't, remember that you passed on your chance to help guide the future of our community.