What You Should Know About City Council Meetings

May 6, 2024
Rohnert Park City Hall

Rohnert Park City Hall

Jasmine Cardenas

As residents of any area, it is important to know what a city council is, who is on it, what they do for your community, and how you can engage with them. 

Councils typically consist of a mayor and a number of members who are then in charge of local operations. We can take Rohnert Park for example; our current city council is made up of Mayor Susan Hollingsworth Adams, Vice Mayor Gerard Guidance, Councilmember Jackie Elward, Councilmember Samantha Rodriguez, and Councilmember Emily Sanborn. 

The responsibility of a city council in general is to work towards improving the community and addressing issues in the area. Each city council has their own list of priorities as the needs of each city varies. Here in Rohnert Park, the list of priorities is accessible on the  RP City Council web page, The main priority of this city is the growth of the community. These lists are useful to look into so as community members you can see where the priorities lay.

During city council meetings, a policy will be proposed for the council to vote in favor of or against, and while the finalizing process of policies is “behind the scenes,” the policy will be shared with the public. These meetings are intentionally open to the public for the opportunity to hear the opinions of the community. It is great for people in the community to attend these meetings so they can have their voices heard and it allows the city council to hear what new or ongoing issues need to be addressed. If there is enough information on a pressing issue, the council can decide on how to address it or may ask more questions to then be able to decide the best course of action. 
Public comment, the process for speaking to the council during meetings, is the best way to share issues you want to be addressed within your community. Counties like ours allow public comments to be shared through email in advance so that it may be addressed at the next meeting. Keep in mind the limitations that come with public comment. Rohnert Park City Council has public comment limited to three minutes per appearance with a max allowance of 30 minutes per comment period and is subject to modification.

What if you missed a meeting covering a topic you care about or are just curious about past meetings? No problem – city council websites are the answer!
The best part about counties having websites for their city council is how convenient they are to access and the information they hold. This information includes the date, time, meeting location, and the agendas. It is very common for these meetings to be documented and shared with the public. Rohnert Park for example, has a city council page where you can actively access past and current agendas for public meetings, past recordings of the meetings, and has an email you can subscribe to that even sends out posting notifications for city council meeting agendas. 

One of the best avenues to be heard in your community is through these city council meetings. Even if the council itself won’t hear you out, others in the audience and community will, and together you can advocate for the policies you believe in. City council meetings are about being informed and engaged. Show up to meetings, share your questions and concerns. You can make a difference and your voice can be heard!