Swanton Village Council to Revisit Live Streaming of Meetings

In March of 2020, when the State of Ohio issued COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings along with social distancing guidelines, the Swanton Village Council had to live-stream their meetings using Zoom and Facebook.  The live-streaming on Facebook gave access to Council proceedings to the entire Swanton community in real time and also recorded the meetings so they could be viewed by anyone at their convenience.

Eventually, another meeting venue was located that was large enough to accommodate the mandated social distancing guidelines and the Council chose to end the live-streaming.  Despite multiple requests from Mayor Neil Toeppe to resume the practice and bring transparency to Swanton’s Village Government, Council rejected the practice.

At the first Council meeting this year, with four new Council members now seated, Swanton resident John Schmidt gave a presentation of his and fellow resident Rick Maynhart’s efforts to implement live-streaming of all Swanton government meetings by way of a local ordinance voted into law by the Village citizens.  Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Maynhart circulated petitions to obtain enough signatures, 141 as required by law, of registered voters to place the ordinance on the ballot in November of 2021.

“Surprisingly, every single person I spoke with was for the live-streaming and it didn’t matter the demographics, old or young, married or single, retired or working, disabled or abled.  It didn’t matter,” said Mr. Schmidt relating his experience.  “Everyone knew what live-streaming was.  I was rather taken by surprise by that.  Every single one of them said ‘Yes. Let’s make sure that Council is aware that the citizens would like to see the live-streaming of Village Council meetings.’  Most were disappointed that it stopped after the emergency law expired and the streaming was suspended.”

Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Maynhart were able secure more than enough valid signatures to place the issue on the ballot, however, unlike petitions for candidates, it was required that their petition be reviewed by the Village before being resubmitted to the Fulton County Board of Elections.  Because Village officials were allowed 10 days for this review, the petition was not able to be submitted before the official deadline.  It was for this reason Mr. Schmidt addressed the Council.

“I’m here on behalf of the citizens of Swanton to say please consider and hopefully pass an ordinance that allows live-streaming of the Village Council meetings,” said Mr. Schmidt.  He went on to relate to Council some of the reasons different citizens said why they wanted live-streaming such as not being able to attend the meeting because of work, taking care of family matters, other commitments or just being unable to physically leave the house.  The biggest reason given was wanting to know what is going on in the Village.

Mayor Toeppe then asked Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle to place the issue on the agenda for the next Council meeting.  Ms. Hoelzle has been researching available live-streaming options and will bring them before Council.

Pictured:  Swanton resident John Schmidt advocates for live-steaming of Council meetings.

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