7/15/2014 1:52:00 PM RIOT first bar to host mayor's coffee talk
Mayor Joens: “I’m just trying to make it more convenient for our citizens to participate in government and to encourage them to participate. If they can’t come to council meetings, this gives them other opportunities to interface and get answers.”
COTTONWOOD -- This month's coffee talk with Mayor Diane Joens is being held at R.I.O.T. in Old Town Cottonwood, in what she said is an effort to reach a broader audience.
"I'm just trying to have them in different venues to attract people that feel comfortable in different places," Joens said.
Starting at 6 p.m. today, July 16, the mayor will be on hand to hear residents' concerns and answer their questions. The city is providing coffee, and people can buy beer at the bar as usual.
"RIOT is kind of a community-gathering place," she said. "Driving by, you always see people outside visiting."
Jerona Java Cafe has hosted several in the past, and Chae's Coffee held the most recent event.
"I thought, just to give everybody equal time and equal chance, we would hold it in a restaurant and bar," she said. "That might give people an opportunity to come and talk to their mayor who might not go to council meetings."
The monthly meetings alternate between afternoon and evening, also to give residents easier access.
"I'm just trying to make it more convenient for our citizens to participate in government and to encourage them to participate," she said. "If they can't come to council meetings, this gives them other opportunities to interface and get answers."
Since becoming a Cottonwood councilwoman in 2003, Joens has been among those organizing and hosting these monthly coffee talks. Each is usually attended by one or two city officials, such as the city manager.
Regularity does suffer when staff resources are spread thin, Joens said. Volunteer Jason Valencia took over the responsibility of arranging these events earlier this year.
Valencia has since started working through the Northern Arizona Council of Governments as Joens' intern, with a broader spectrum of duties.
"It's kind of hard to make all these arrangements sometimes, so I appreciate his help," she said.
Joens said the talks also give her a chance to update residents on city news and issues. She'll tell attendees Wednesday night about a July 17 Speak Out Arizona event at the Cottonwood Recreation Center.
"Mostly I just want to hear what they have to say about the community," Joens said. "I call them listening sessions."