With attendance hovering around the 70 percent mark over five years, both Jamie Locke and Kevin Knickerbocker should re-evaluate if they can adequately commit to their positions.
Fifty-three percent isn’t cutting it. Neither is 66 percent.
Yet that’s the attendance rate in 2016 from two Hannibal council members — sixth ward councilman Jamie Locke and first ward councilman and mayor pro tem Kevin Knickerbocker.
There’s been 15 regular city council meetings so far in 2016. Between Locke and Knickerbocker, they’ve accrued 12 absences.
For nine meetings (some absences overlapped), residents in central and northern Hannibal didn’t have representation on the council.
Eleven people have served on the Hannibal council since Jan. 1, 2012.
Since that time, Locke and Knickerbocker have tallied a combined 55 absences. The other nine council members have combined for 31.
Both Locke (with 25 absences since 2012) and Knickerbocker (30) have more individual absences than nine council members combined.
Those numbers should be alarming for residents of those wards.
The Courier-Post published an investigation on Friday, Aug. 5 that unveiled a 5-year low in average attendance by council members, mostly due to the attendance rates of Locke and Knickerbocker.
Everyone is busy.
Between children, work, organizations, and other responsibilities, it can be difficult to fit in everything in a day. But when you run for public office, where people depend on your presence to make important decisions that will impact the nearly 18,000 people living in the city, you need to make it fit.
As councilman Kevin Lionberger said in response to a Courier-Post query about attendance, “On different occasions I had to change my schedule so I could make it to Council meetings. This includes putting Council meetings before my wife, sons and our family business.”
That’s what an elected official does. Sacrifices have to be made, because people are counting on you.
Lionberger, by the way, has missed five council meetings since 2012. His attendance rate is higher than 90 percent in that time.
Inevitably, absences will happen. It’s part of life and most reasonable people understand that. We expect that a council member will miss a meeting here or there. We aren’t saying council members should have perfect attendance.
But most reasonable people will also understand that attending meetings as an elected official is an imperative. It’s what you signed up to do. Neither councilmen gave an on-the-record explanation for their absences.
With attendance hovering around the 70 percent mark over five years, both Locke and Knickerbocker should re-evaluate if they can adequately commit to their positions.
Council members make $200 per month — not much for a rather thankless job anyway. That’s the point though. It is a job. We don’t know of any job where you still get paid for 70 percent attendance. Perhaps that’s something the council should ponder.