OGDEN — A telephonic town hall held last week by Weber County commissioners drew nearly 2,000 listeners.
It was a first for Weber County officials and a first for county-level government officials across the state, leaders say. They are thinking of doing it again, using it as a means to connect with the public.
“Speaking directly with voters while they are in the comfort of their own home was a huge hit,” Commissioner Jim Harvey said in a statement. “In the past, our public open houses have only averaged a handful of people in attendance. Having almost 2,000 people on this call is a huge win in helping us communicate with and report directly to our constituents.”
The county contracted with a vendor, Telephone Town Hall, that supplied the needed equipment and constituent contact information to reach out to Weber County residents via phone. Those taking part could listen in via phone and offer questions to commissioners as the officials answered the queries.
The actual number of listeners over the course of the town hall totaled 1,918, with an average listen time of nine minutes. The three commissioners, Harvey, Gage Froerer and Scott Jenkins, took the calls from a room at the Weber Center, the seat of county government in Ogden, and took turns answering them.
The topics ran the gamut, from economic development to population growth to three-commissioner style of government. In all, the commissioners took 24 questions and conducted four polls over about an hour. The county paid Telephone Town Hall $6,810 and because the county now has the equipment it needs, repeat telephonic town halls will be cheaper.